Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Policies and entrenchment of social injustice

In Namibia, concern for social injustice is equated with developing more government policies. In reality, these policies only serve as legal instruments to fortify the structures of injustice.
The crafting of a number of policies meant to help the poor are fuelling the delay of programmes and means to address poverty.
Thus, they hurt the poor and impede the process of progress. Instead of revisiting these policies, we seem to find deep satisfaction in busying ourselves with writing policies that contribute to the poverty problem.
Two weeks ago, I took time to read through the Poverty Reduction Strategy of Namibia, Vision 2030, Blue Print on Wealth Redistribution and Poverty Eradication, the Harambee Prosperity Plan and National Development Plan V.
My purpose was to understand the government’s approach to social justice, post-apartheid. However, I was left appalled at the waste of resources spent to rewrite the same issues into five different (by name only) documents.
Thus far, the state has championed itself as the guardian of the poor, however, this pro-poor rhetoric is often negated by incoherency and recycling of policies and programmes.
Does this say something about carelessness of those in government, tasked with ensuring the development of such policies and programmes?
I’m embarrassed to also mention that as far as originality of thought and framing of these documents is concerned, they’re but plagiarised and simply reworded.
It places questions on the songs we sing about fighting poverty and social injustice.
For lack of time and space, I’ll say something about the Blue Print on Wealth Distribution and Poverty Eradication.
It introduces itself as a document that seeks social justice.
Strangely, justice which is the key word of the document is only mentioned three times (none in a substantial form).
What do we intend to achieve with a policy document that is vaguer than vagueness itself? This is but evidence that those seated at policy level in their carelessness are legislating poverty.
A ministry appointed to address poverty issues that are plaguing the country, cannot achieve that goal following this Blue Print.
The absence of a substantive policy and programme to address poverty, could be sufficient evidence to question the role of the existence of a ministry of poverty eradication.
Its failure is evidence by its attempt to achieve the reduction of poverty, using same old policies worded differently.
The document meant to be the national blue print of war on poverty is devoid of intentionality, strategy or the common decency of being framed in the language that speaks to the Namibian situation.
Crafting policies meant to restore the violated human dignity without intentionally focusing on issues of justice, reduces the entire exercise to politics.
Sadly, the mentioning of dignity about 10 times in such vague and isolated context throughout the document, is itself an insult on the violated dignity.
It reflects the failure to think for ourselves rather than just adopting concepts and programmes without looking at our own needs.
If GRN is serious with the fight against poverty among other issues of social injustice, it needs to demonstrate by drafting meaningful and intentional policies and programmes.
The present culture of drafting and duplicating documents that do not speak to the issues that are facing society, only lead to entrenching the perpetuation of social injustice.
The need to translate the challenges facing the Namibian society into policies that are genuinely thought through and executable, would be the beginning of doing the right thing. Policies ought to be crafted as reflecting the needs of the people and those drafting them should do so because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s the best political thing to say.
Unless we begin to engage the crafting of documents based on the needs that are facing us, we’ll have no problem of borrowing and plagiarising policies that don’t serve us.
This culture of thinking that documents in themselves translate into doing something, is a culture of injustice towards the poor.
Wasting millions of dollars on things that would eventually not translate into anything tangible but to be shelved because it doesn’t work.
Sadly, no one would admit that it doesn’t work, because politics is more important than admitting to truth.
Instead it’s covered up in diplomacy and creating new untested responses – wasting resources and prolonging the suffering of the poor.
Finally, the need to develop policies and programmes that are thought through and speaking to the Namibian situation, is key to dealing with social injustice. I hope that in the coming administration, the president would make this his priority.
There is need to ensure that the policies are addressing issues of injustice and its effects inherited from apartheid and colonialism.
The war against poverty should be strategic and intentional and drafting policies that can translate into effective programmes needs careful thinking and planning.
Such is worth investing the state’s money, to ensure that many Namibians will have a better life.
Else, we’re doomed to keep repeating same dysfunctional, recycled, reworded and ineffective policies that are divorced from the realities on the ground.

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