'Keep The Toxic Waste Out!'
Open Letter To Namibian Civil Society
SOUTH African waste company Enviroserv has submitted a tender to the city of New York to ship their garbage for disposal into an as yet unnamed African country. A press statement of 17 December by Enviroserv reads:
"Enviroserv is currently in discussions with a number of African countries investigating the possibility of the erection of waste to energy plants. These countries have limited energy resources and the waste to energy option provides a low cost alternative. Enviroserv has bid on the New York City Domestic Waste Tender in order to procure a possible sources of waste for these plants. Provided discussions with the African countries prove successful, the New York City Tender can provide a substantial source of raw material. It is not the intention of Enviroserv to import this waste into South Africa."
EJNF in South Africa is pursuing this matter with the intent of preventing the transfer of significant environmental and health costs to Africa's citizens. In sum our reasons for opposing such a move are:
1) If burning garbage was safe and profitable they would be doing it in New York;
2) Incinerating wastes of unknown and uncontrolled origin spreads toxins in the air and produces dioxins, the most dangerous cancer-causing synthetic chemical known to science;
3) The ash from such incineration is highly toxic and would have to be buried somewhere in the recipient country;
4) Such a move would effectively mean that the United States maintains its unsustainable consumption patterns by passing the hidden costs to the poverty-stricken citizens of African countries.
EJNF is mobilizing its international contacts in gathering further information and solidarity in opposing this move. We are also mobilising South African public and government opinion against such a venture.
We ask your organisation to join us in opposing this move by:
a) Alerting your own governments and people to this scheme;
b) Sending us a brief message indicating your organisation's opposition to such a move, and outlining anyactions you may be taking.
c) Mobilising other organisations in your country to do the same.
We presently suspect the prime candidates for accepting these wastes are Namibia and Mozambique. We shall keep you informed of developments.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any suggestions, or would like any more information or clarity.
Yours for a sustainable African environment.
ENIVRINMENTAL JUSTICE NETWORKING FORUM
PO BOX 100029
A Country Of 'Hope & Promise'
I RETURNED recently from a year of volunteer work in Namibia, and one of the first things I did when I got home was get onto my family's computer and check out your web site - having read so many positive comments about it, I wanted to see this marvel for myself! I must say, it is even better than I had expected.
It's extremely user-friendly, very nicely laid-out, and best of all, it contains news about the country which I so sadly left behind when my contract as a teacher ended. I am so glad that I'll be able to keep up with things happening in the place I now consider something of a 'second home' for me.
And, while I'm writing you, I may as well give you my opinions on what I feel were the biggest news stories of 1997 in Namibia, or, at least, the stories which resonated most strongly with me. First of all, the Epupa dam project, which will cause huge damage to the Himbas - both economically and culturally, is one which I feel very strongly about. In Canada, there has been a huge cultural loss and damage done to our Native people, and I believe that other nations should look to the consequences of having displaced and harmed these people in so many ways, as a lesson and a warning not to do the same. To go ahead with a project such as this would cause not only terrible harm to the Himba, but most likely would increase tribalism and hostility between this group and others. I often have wondered if the dam project would be going ahead if it were Ovambo burial grounds which would be flooded.
Secondly, the rapes of babies in the last year is one of the most horrifying things I have ever heard of, and is something that still angers and astounds me from afar. This is a problem that Namibia MUST deal with. This is something not to be placed on the back-burner, or to be filed in people's minds as 'just news'. This is a very real problem, and the psychological damage, coupled with the physical damage, to the victims and their families cannot be under-estimated.
As Namibia enters the year 1998, I am sure there are many more stories to come; some tragic, others heart-lifting. I hope that the country will do all it can to minimise the number of tragedies, and continue its great reconciliation process, to remain the country with hope and promise that I have learned to love.
VANCOUVER, BC (via e-mail)
Info At Your Fingertips
CONGRATULATIONS for your excellent achievement in having joined the information superhighway. At the touch of a button, Namibians everywhere around the globe can now access the latest new from home. Best wishes in your endeavours for the upcoming year and keep up with your policy of objective reporting and editorial independence. The nation as a whole needs a newspaper of your calibre.
USA (via e-mail)
THROUGHOUT the past few months away from home, you (The Namibian) kept me informed all those events and happenings. Simply by downloading your web site ALL is on my lips. That's fantastic. I therefore use this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year. Keep up the good work! I look forward to 1998.
ROYAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
SWEDEN (via e-mail)
Facing The Painful Truth
I AM writing to express my feelings about NBC interview with Honourable Prime Minister, Dr Hage Geingob that was screened on NBCTV news of January 5, 1998 on the issue of the ex- detainees' yearning for the truth about their detention during Swapo's spy drama to be heard and for a genuine reconciliation to take place.
Unlike the former responses from the Swapo quarters (e.g. the late Garoeb's "apologise for what?") on this issue, the PM accepted humanly that to be detained as a spy, while you are not is painful.
I highly appreciate him for that understanding, that is, if he really means what he says. Unfortunately while listening with hope for the better, the good start of this interview ended in an usual conclusion - "let the bygones be bygones..." - under the umbrella of national reconciliation.
In defence of this suppressing conclusion he gave the usual excuses, i.e the other partner in the killing, torturing and detention of sons and daughters of this nation - the SA colonial regime - has gone.
To me this conclusion is counter to the PM's initial understanding of the pain the ex- detainees are going through. In fact, it is just a boost dose to the immunity of the guilty part, while compromising the sufferers. This additional pain is even smarter than what the PM claims to understand.
To give one simple example:- When two thieves have stolen from you then you manage to catch one, it should be crazy to let the one you caught go freely, simply because you have failed to catch them both. Why don't you give room for those who are here to tell us their version, and then who knows? They are most likely to know very well how to reach their partners in the evil deeds who are claimed to have gone.
It is true that "ou li konima yesiga ku shi unpyu waM'lilo" (please help somebody). But for those of us who live with ex-detainees feel the real pain of these people everyday. The fact that survivors of the spy drama are now employed cannot be an excuse whatsoever for the concocters of this evil scheme to take the truth with them to their graves unrevealed.
And really, why should the innocent walk with their heads bowed, while the killers are tall and proud in the name of reconciliation? The truth must be told to this nation, and national reconciliation with all its good intentions should not be used to hide those whose hands are dripping with the precious blood of innocent Namibian people. We have got to face the truth, because it does not help to run away from our own shadows.
TALKING ABOUT THE KILLERS
I WISH to enquire about the Government's stand on housing loans to private persons, i.e. those persons not employed by Government in the civil service. Civil servants and persons earning high salaries have no problem in securing housing loans. Unfortunately no provision is made for poorly paid persons in private industry. Those employed in the private sector are subjected to discrimination on many levels and I, for one, would appreciate a housing scheme that is targeted specifically at persons in the private sector who earn below average salaries.
The minister of Local Government and Housing should therefore look into this issue and provide us with feedback.
Improving Oshiwambo Standards
AS a student teacher specialising in the field of languages (including Oshindonga) I was very disappointed with the way in which the editor of the New Era newspaper responded to a letter by Mr Hans Namuhuja (The Namibian 19 December).
Mr Namuhuja is an Oshindonga language expert, a linguist and the author of many novels and short story books in Oshindonga. For that matter, he is a teacher by profession. He was not wrong when he pointed out the weak points of the New Era's editorial. His purpose, through the article, was to encourage them to improve their use of the language.
The editor of the New Era saw Mr Namuhuja's article in the wrong light, i.e. as if Mr Namuhuja intended to humiliate and demote the New Era newspaper. It was not intended as such.
Although Mr Namuhuja is retired he is strongly committed to developing the standard of language (Ndonga) in this country.
I thank The Namibian for always being open to constructive criticism on all issues.
P H NAKAWA
Soccer Magazine Rapped
IT is with great joy that I saw a magazine dedicated to Namibian soccer for the first time in the shelf and was very glad to dig into my pocket and pay the N$4,50 that was the price of the magazine.
Initiatives like this one are very good for any society and this shows a positive step by fellow Namibians in promoting our own talents. The magazine should be a testimony that we as Namibians can take up opportunities and exploit them to the benefit of the community and self.
But I was very disappointed to see the kind of material that was inside the magazine. Being a soccer player and fan, I did not like the fact that the presentation was not up to the standard of local and international publications. The Namibian Soccer magazine is a disgrace as far am I a concerned, even from a business point of view. Unless the editor(s) improve dramatically in the next issue, this project will die a natural death. In fact, I would like to get my N$4,50 back.
A few suggestions on how to improve the magazine just in case you thought I am criticising for the sake of it:
¥ get a proper publication layout package
¥ get a qualified person to do the layout of the magazine (I would like to volunteer)
¥ get black and white pictures ( you either have a very bad photographer or your picture scanner is lousy)
¥ get materials for all pages when you don't have adverts.
¥ pictures in the magazines should be clear and recognisable and indicate the name of your editor(s) and contributors PLEASE.
Alternatively, stop publishing the magazine until you are ready to do it properly.
On School Fees In Namibia
WHEN I was a child, I really didn't understand the meaning of going to school. I only went to school, because there was a certain girl in my class that I really liked. Therefore, I had to try whatever I could do to get money for my school fees in order to stay in school and see that girl. But now I have grown to understand the importance of getting an education.
Education is a necessity, and it's an important factor to humankind. Education is what makes our lives complete and worth living. But how can parents in Namibia afford to send their children to school?
At the beginning of each year, parents in Namibia scramble to get money to pay for school uniforms and high school fees for their primary and secondary school children. If you don't have money to pay for your children's school fee, then your children will be sent back home, simply because they can't afford the fees.
Also, if the child does not have a school uniform, the result is also to stay at home. Since education in Namibia is for those who have money for school fees, many children are left uneducated and with dead-end goals and dreams. Also, poor education and underpaid teachers have been the main obstacles and burdens to almost every child's educational objectives for many years.
Each child possesses a need for equal access to quality education and service in order to advance to a post-secondary school where the child will earn a degree or some kind of formal training in order to get a good paying job. But it is very expensive to go to school. Namibian employees (parents) are already underpaid and most of them are farmers and unemployed who have no income at all. Yet, children in primary and secondary schools are required to pay school fees.
I feel that children in primary and secondary schools should stop paying school fees. I feel that the Namibian government, businessmen and the entire community should come up with the system that can generate money to cover school expenses. Also, this system must be able to make money to buy school buses so that children don't have to walk long distance from their homes to school.
As a businessman, I have a plan that can solve this problem with primary and secondary school fees. This plan will help to make education in Namibia mandatory, where children in Namibia will not have to pay school fees (except for buying school uniforms), but parents will be required (by law) to put their children in school. And if any child is found out of school, legal action can be taken toward the parent of that child.
This plan will help every child have equal access to quality education and service. Because, if every child in Namibia can have access to quality education, then this will help reduce the rate of homeless, crime, unemployment, and poverty in Namibia.
Before I place my plan on the table, I would like to know how the Namibian parents will feel if they won't have to pay for primary and secondary school fees. Please send your comments regarding this letter on "Primary and Secondary School Fees in Namibia" to The Namibian for publication. This is so I can get a general idea of the public's opinions.
WORLD EDUCATION ACCESS
USA (via e-mail)
Lack Of Bursaries 'A Grave Matter'
THE lack of bursaries available to students who have successfully completed high school is a grave matter that creates even more apathy amongst young people. The fact that the Government is seemingly in no hurry to offer more bursaries or create more opportunities for young people is not helping the situation either.
I feel that the young people from the north and other rural areas are especially hard struck by the lack of bursaries. Their parents do not have money to pay for their studies and I think they especially need the Government's assistance.
I am sure that the Government has enough money that can be spent or invested wisely to combat this problem. When we read about ministers receiving double salaries that could have been better spent elsewhere, one wonders about the priorities of those in power.
One of our main aims should be to fight illiteracy and other problems in our education system. The future of our country depends on it.
Those in power should contemplate this issue otherwise this country will be taken over by foreigners who are still dominating some of the most important positions in Namibia. They should turn back and think about how Namibia originally came under colonial rule and consider ways to avoid its recurrence.
Our Government should please think about employing foreigners when there are many Namibian eager to study who will eventually be able to perform the same duties.
On the other hand, the allotment of bursaries to persons is another point of concern. This exercise is open to discrimination and favouritism and, if we all think clearly, it is a sure recipe for failure. Equality and justice should be our guidelines in all aspects of our lives.
Save Us From The 'Sharks'
I AM deeply hurt about the happenings at the Polytech of Namibia. I am forced to inform our readers about the management style at this institution since I have done my personal best to solve certain issues internally with the relevant authorities, albeit with no success.
You are either told not to talk too much or your are ignored or victimised. You are forced to accept things whether you like it or not and, when making enquiries, your name is placed on a black list.
Workers' representation and staff meetings are taboo. The Rector himself decides for the staff whether meetings are to be held on the campus. Even meetings during lunch hours are totally banned.
Written complaints to management is a waste of time. However, if you happen to delay a request from management you are immediately faced with a disciplinary hearing.
Eleven years of service to the Polytechnic without any offence means a lot. It is therefore a matter of concern when a new person comes afterwards and regard you as incompetent. Yet they turn down all your requests for training.
The very same person who victimises you, constitutes charges against you and, in the same breath, become the chairman of a disciplinary hearing. This person automatically dominates the outcome of the hearing.
As the head of security at the Polytechnic of Namibia it is required of me to do the work of three persons without any agreement or compensation in that regard.
My big mouth has nearly cost me my job but I shall continue to express my opinion because it is my democratic right to do so.
I recently came upon two gentlemen who were loading machinery into their vehicle. My polite introduction and question was met with a rebuff.
Since I am involved in the security I believed it my right to be informed of the removal of property from the campus. I therefore investigated the matter further and my enquiries revealed the following:
¥ Items have been bought by private farmers and local persons have already bought several items from the Polytechnic of Namibia. There was no security control over these items.
¥ These items were bought by private auction of which only a few white people were informed. No memo was circulated to inform the staff and larger public of the sale of these goods.
¥ Since taxpayers' money come into play with an institution like the Polytechnic I was surprised to find that the general public was not invited to purchase items at the auction.
¥ The items involved and sold thus far amounts to approximately N$300 000. We do not know if there are more items and, if so, where they are stored.
¥ The items ranged from building materials, car engines, tools and sophisticated machinery.
I have thus far approached the office of the Ombudsman with my concerns. After a long wait I was informed officially that they have communicated with the relevant authorities and that the correct procedures had been followed in the above mentioned case. Case closed.
We were all waiting to see if anyone from the office of the Ombudsman would be conducting independent investigation.
The general trend is: Dance to the beat and you are in the good books; talk to much and we will make your life miserable so that you resign through pure frustration.
Please save us from the sharks.
January 9, 1998
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