Over 2500 people died of Covid19 in Namibia between the start of April and end of July this year (five times more than the entire preceding year) following the start of water cut-offs in March 2021.

Yet very little debate has taken place about the possible causes of this disaster. In this edition I looked more closely at government policy and the lethal implications of ‘business as usual’ for public health in general.

The last item is a petition calling on the government to .

Thinkers who challenge the status quo are often suppressed and marginalised to protect the Establishment. But although they can be locked away and destroyed, their ideas cannot so easily be contained.

Dr Semmelweis (centre) is depicted in the Vienna General Hospital in Austria supervising doctors washing their hands before examining patients in this painting by Robert Thom. Pic: National Geographic

The case of Ignaz Semmelweis

When the story of Dr Ignaz Semmelweis is taught in university courses they often leave out the sad part: that at the end of July 1865, the man who would later be known as the ‘saviour of mothers’ was taken by a friend under false pretenses to an insane asylum in Pest, Hungary, where he was beaten by the guards to subdue him and forced into a straitjacket before being thrown into a cold, dark cell where, aged just 47, he was found dead 14 days later.

The crisis of conscience that led to the breakdown and premature death of…

A brief history of how the ruling party and opposition sold the voters down the river during the height of the 2021 pandemic.

ALL AGREED: Panduleni Itula, McHenry Venaani, Josef Kauandenge and Job Amupanda at the signing of the Windhoek City Coalition agreement in August. All parties had in March already agreed to start cutting poor residents’ water supply, long before they had signed any coalition agreement. Photo: The Namibian

In March — shortly after Swapo suffered heavy losses in the November 2020 elections — the new minister of urban and rural development, Erastus Uutoni, sent a letter to all top municipal officials instructing them to start to enforce immediate debt recovery measures, by disconnecting the water supply of households that had fallen into arrears.

This move marked a complete U-turn in government policy, because in March 2020 the previous minister of urban and rural development, Peya Mushelenga issued an urgent plea to all regional and local authorities to stop all water disconnections and to reconnect all households whose water…

A woman who dared to speak truth to power, a formidable freedom fighter has passed away.

Claudia Namises. Photo via NBC

said of Claudia Namises that she was ‘a selfless woman’, who has been taking care of orphans and vulnerable children since 2004. She died this week of complications related to Covid-19, the state broadcaster reported, adding that as founder of Orlindi Children’s home in Katutura ‘she was a mother to many children who found a safe haven at her home.’

Ten years ago, she told her story to Nghidipo Nangolo, then editor of The Informante. The story of her abduction and abuse at the hands of the so-called liberation movement, SWAPO, has since been removed from Informante’s website…

In his opinion piece published in The Namibian newspaper on 1 June 2021, entitled ‘Towards a Namibian Local Authority Family’, Dr Job Amupanda, who holds a PhD in Political Studies from the University of Namibia openly resorted to plagiarising the work of Puja Mondal and a number of Wikipedia contributors.

In his opening paragraph Amupanda states that:

‘To understand any society, one needs to study its organising principles. One is kinship. Sociologist Anthony Giddens simplifies that kinship is culturally learned “connections between individuals, established either through marriage or the lines of descent that connect blood relatives (mother, father, offspring, grandparents, etc)’. Kinship rules, norms and ethos thus organise society and establish institutions… kinship remains an organising principle of society…”

Compare his paragraph to the by Puja Mundal, entitled ‘Kinship: Main Organizing Principles of Human Society’ in which the writer says of kinship:

“ It is one of the main organizing principles of human society… According…

Striking NBC workers on the march in May 2021. Photo: The Namibian

The month-long strike by NBC workers marked a milestone in the struggle of the Namibian working class, inasmuch as it was the first time that media workers came out in significant numbers to stand up against injustice and inequality in the industry.

Many Namibians sympathise with the NBC workers, given that in December the management of the state broadcaster awarded themselves bonuses in excess of N$5.7 million, while insisting there is no money to raise the income of workers lower down on the pecking order.

The fact that NBC management had been deducting medical aid and other contributions without paying…

‘The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.’~Hannah Arendt

Children wait to collect water at a communal standpipe. Photo The Namibian

Dear Mayor,

As I listened to the proceedings of the council meeting on 14 April that debated the issue of prepaid water, it brought to mind a woman I met many years ago that you should know about. I was doing field research into the effects of prepaid water meters when I first met Lydia* in 2003.

She lived in DRC in Swakopmund with her mother and two small brothers in a small three-room shack. Like others in DRC, they had no electricity or water supply at home…

The prepaid water system that the City of Windhoek and other near-bankrupt councils want to introduce means automatic water cut-offs for those who cannot afford to pay upfront.

A woman at Paaie Kamp’ at Noordoewer in the //Karas region waits to collect water. Pic: The Namibian

Higher water tariffs

Under Windhoek’s proposed prepaid water system people who are currently struggling to afford water will be compelled to pay an extra N$4,293 for the installation of a prepaid meter, which is presented as a miracle solution to debt management.

If the residents can’t pay upfront, the cost of the meter plus annual interest will be added to the cost of water over five years. Post-paid customers do not have this additional expense.

Moreover, the following charges can be added onto the unit cost of prepaid water: The rates and taxes, current household debt, the inevitable servicing of municipal loans from…

In recent days we’ve heard reports of water cut-offs at towns across the country. New councillors at the helm of near-bankrupt municipalities are eager to balance the books and want the residents to cough up.

Rundu residents fetch water from a communal tap. Photo Contruction Review

Apparently, the only way out of the financial crisis is to get the residents to pay more, but these days — after a five-year economic slump — money is too tight to mention in most households.

At Narraville in Walvis Bay the new council started cutting water supply to households in debt this month. At Aranos in the south people protested vehemently against water cut-offs this week.

Small places like Arandis, as well as big municipalities like Windhoek have also warned their financially stressed residents that mass water cut-offs are imminent if they do not pay up.

The way the…

Despite their best efforts to smile and hide their frustration, many of us would have noticed the exhaustion and despair in the eyes of the super-exploited cashiers that serve us in the supermarkets.

In 2018, Shoprite sued 93 of its workers for taking strike action over low wages. Photo The Namibian

The workers’ despair generally stems from their poor working conditions and is one of the reasons why the decision by the workers of Shoprite, Checkers and U-Save to embark on strike action for better wages and improved working conditions should be supported by the wider community.

The rise of Covid19 in 2020 has shown beyond doubt that these underpaid and undervalued workers are in fact essential to the survival of society. …

Jade Lennon

Writer, reporter, activist

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