Namibia: LPM Blames Drought Situation On Government

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(File photo).

THE Landless People's Movement (LPM) has blamed the drought situation in the country on poor intervention by the government.

The party's Keetmanshoop committee in a statement issued yesterday likened the government's recent decision to give marketing incentives to drought-affected farmers, who want to sell their livestock at this late hour, to "resuscitating an already dead person".

"A hopeless, belated action is just an act of lip service and political gimmick meant to deceive the farmers into believing that the government is serious about alleviating their plight," the statement reads.

The already precarious drought situation, the LPM said, was compounded by the payment process yet to be realised following the drought intervention announcement last Friday.

The movement said all indications at this stage are that the so-called incentive scheme is nothing more than an intervention perceived on an "ad hoc basis, and this is not informed by the perennial aridity of the greater parts of Namibia".

Against this backdrop, the LPM believes that the Namibian agriculture sector must be treated as being in a persistent drought situation, and that both crop and livestock production are under constant need of relief.

"We, therefore, propose that early warning systems are improved, and planning and budget allocations be adjusted accordingly," the statement added.

Equally, the movement proposed that thorough planning of the roll-out strategy is done to avoid excessively prolonged payment processing periods. The LPM furthermore believes that the current talk of providing marketing incentives is a "stillborn baby".

This, it claimed, is what the Swapo-led government is doing to the people.

"This is especially true when one considers the skewed priorities of a government that budgets N$445 million for drought relief, while spending N$100 million more on VIP protection," the statements reads.

The movement also took issue with the reported shortfall of N$5 million for livestock marketing incentives, and the leasing of grazing land and transport, which it regards as the most critical component of all drought relief interventions.

It further stated that the government's past and present handling of drought relief and its failure to mitigate the effects of devastation was thus not surprising.

Political analyst Hoze Riruako yesterday said for the over four years that the drought situation was gripping the country, the declaration of a drought emergency by president Hage Geingob is highly welcomed.

"It was time for someone to act decisively," he added.

Riruako is of the view that modalities on how to mitigate the effects of the country's dry spell were not more important than the drought emergency declaration.

"It is like a house is on declare, and then work on the mitigation modalities," he said in reference to the LPM's condemnation of the government's drought interventions.

The agriculture ministry's executive director, Percy Misika, could not be reached for comment.

He also did not respond to questions regarding the LPM's assertion about the government's drought relief interventions sent to him via a cellphone text message by the time of going to print.

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