Here is the proof: How Dr Job Amupanda plagiarises Wikipedia and distorts the work of other writers

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:

Compare his paragraph to the online article 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 to Anthony Giddens (1997), ‘kinship ties are connections between individuals, established either through marriage or the lines of descent that connect blood relatives (mother, father, offspring, grandparents, etc.). Kinship is culturally learned…”

Thus it appears that Dr Amupanda, who is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Namibia and mayor of Windhoek, simply copied Mondal’s formulation and slightly rearranged the order of Mondal’s words but without crediting his source, thus making it appear as if he is putting forward his own original analysis of Giddens’ theory.

2. In the third paragraph, he says:

Compare that to the Wikipedia entry on social engineering, which states:

‘German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in his 1905 study The Present Problems of Social Structure, proposes that society can no longer operate successfully using outmoded methods of social management. To achieve the best outcomes, all conclusions and decisions must use the most advanced techniques and include reliable statistical data, which can be applied to a social system.’

Where is the research data?

Because on 24 April 2021 I published an open letter to Amupanda in The Namibian to ask whether the municipality had done any research or impact assessment on its proposed policy of installing prepaid water meters and enforcing water cut-offs among those households that have fallen into debt.

I raised my concerns in view of the pandemic and public health emergency we face but I did not get any direct response. Earlier, on 15 April I had written to the City’s communications department to ask whether they had done any research or collected any data to inform their water policy.

City spokesperson Harold Akwenye responded on 20 April to confirm that:

“The City of Windhoek has not carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment for pre-paid water meters for residential usage…’ Furthermore Akwenye confirmed that ‘The City has not carried out a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) on the pre-paid water meters…”

Thus it is clear that no research was done prior to implementation of the new policy. But here the mayor is in the papers saying policy must be based on research and data. How does that make sense?

In an earlier report, based on the proceedings of the extraordinary Council meeting in mid-April, I showed why residents who are ‘compelled’ to use the prepaid water meters would in fact pay far more per unit of water (almost double the price) compared to those using the post-paid system.

Hence, in my open letter I charged Amupanda with enforcing a top-down policy of social engineering and creating a two-tier system of service delivery — one for the rich and one for the poor — without an iota of research data to substantiate such a fundamental change in public water policy — which I regard as a form of economic apartheid, because it effectively means that basic water services would be available only to those who have an income and cash to pay for it. Access to water under his regime would no longer be considered a human right, but a privilege afforded only to those who can pay upfront.

This also goes against the thrust of his election manifesto, which promised to undo the legacy of apartheid. The fact is that — for the most part — the people who are least able to pay are precisely those people who were historically and economically disadvantaged by apartheid and colonialism, as well as the wider working class, which has been hammered hard by the economic crisis.

The mayor further says Windhoek is “a careless capitalist city” but here he is advancing a policy of prepaid water that privileges those with money, while punishing the poor, which is an inherently pro-capitalist (anti-poor) policy, one that the banks are eager to finance to the tune of N$300 million.

3. Misrepresenting the ideas of Antonio Gramsci

Organic intellectuals are talkers and practically minded directors and organisers whose work on social life transcends epistemological and ontological rules. Through a variety of methods, they articulate the masses’ feelings and experiences which the masses are unable to articulate.’

Besides the absurdity of trying to transcend epistemology (theory of knowledge and its sources) and ontology (the concept of being), it is clear that he lifted the above phrase in bold directly from a Wikipedia entry under Antonio Gramsci.

The Wikipedia version states that: ‘He (Gramsci) saw modern intellectuals not as talkers, but as practical-minded directors and organisers.’ And further on says that organic intellectuals “articulate, through the language of culture, the feelings and experiences which the masses could not express for themselves.” — which is almost identical to Amupanda’s version above, yet he fails to reference his source.

Besides the fact that he fails to acknowledge the source of his argument and presents it as his own formulation, the other problem here is that he actually distorts the meaning of the original statement that he copied from Wikipedia.

The textbook definition of plagiarism from Oxford University website.

A lack of intellectual honesty and modesty

Ignoring the fact that there is no such thing as “stationeries” in the English language, there can be little doubt that as an ambitious politician, Amupanda sees himself as being ”‘in transit to parliament and Cabinet” and seems to be projecting his own ambitions onto those he considers “ungifted.”

Regarding ‘fairness, justice and happiness’

But the tragic fact is that Windhoek municipality under his leadership has begun in the midst of a pandemic winter and amid the third wave of Covid19 infections to disconnect water and electricity to households in debt, thus placing the whole City and the public health system at risk of being overrun by the pandemic and other infectious diseases.

As noted, the water cuts affect mainly the poorest of the poor, the elderly, child-headed households, the disabled and unemployed, and those on low income. And the water cuts have not made the affected people happy, but rather placed them at serious risk.

(Hospitals Overwhelmed: See The Namibian frontpage today).

He is thus choosing to punish the poor for a crisis we did not create.

The policy of water cuts clearly represents a major public health hazard and a form of collective punishment, because people who had nothing to do with the original debt of the household in question are also at risk of infection if they come into contact with residents who became ill from infectious diseases because their water at home had been disconnected. How is that fair or just?

Ignoring the Bill of Rights

In any judicial proceedings or in other proceedings before any organ of the State, and during the enforcement of a penalty, respect for human dignity shall be guaranteed’ and ‘No persons shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Disconnecting the water supply to the poorest households certainly violates our human dignity and arguably constitutes a form of ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, as contemplated in the Bill of Rights.

Therefore, I have no doubt that if the legality of his cruel water policy were tested in court, Amupanda and the council he leads would lose.

Writer, reporter, activist