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Analysts predict unrest in absence of employment

2022-05-16  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Analysts predict unrest in absence of employment

Political and economic experts have weighed in on Friday’s protests in Windhoek’s China Town, which resulted in the arrest of political leaders and activists and the injury of journalists and bystanders.

They have warned the government to expect similar disturbances if it does not grow the economy.

Chaos erupted on Friday when law enforcement officials attempted to shut down a protest by firing teargas and rubber bullets at protestors who had blocked the entrance to Windhoek’s China Town.

The incident follows the arrest of Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) member Michael Amushelelo who shut down Chinese shops on Thursday, claiming that they also sell counterfeit goods. Amushelelo’s actions were in reaction to the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) which earlier in the week announced that it destroyed counterfeit goods valued at N$5 million.

“What I think is the real spark is the unemployment that most of our youth are going through, and it can be exploited by anyone. I think it will get worse if the government doesn’t solve the unemployment and the hardships faced by not only the youth but many Namibians in general,” said economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu.

Political analyst Rui Tyitende said the protests were particularly significant in at least two respects. 

“First, and most importantly, it was a response to the economic hardships faced by many young Namibians, especially the unemployed. The destruction of those ‘counterfeit’ or ‘illegal’ goods by NamRA belonged to young people who were trying to make an honest living in an economy that is unable to accommodate them,” said Tyitende.

Tyitende said Namibians are living in challenging times and government needs to be innovative by finding ways and means to arrest the high unemployment rate in the country. 

“Rubber bullets, mass arrests, and the unleashing of the Special Reserve Force will not solve the underlying problems,” he stressed. 

“We should expect more of these protests as more young people will join the army of the unemployed this year,” he added.

He said the major tertiary institutions are currently graduating thousands of young people in an economy that will be unable to absorb them. 

“This will continue to be a recipe for civil unrest and political instability. Political parties like NEFF will continue to exploit these social problems to remain relevant and project themselves as an alternative potential government,” he said.

Another political analyst and academic Gerson Sindano said the recent political drama in China town by NEFF has the potential to cause political instability and economic turmoil. 

“Rhetorically, NEFF has taken advantage of the political situation in the country where workers feel abandoned by the unions. NEFF leaders appear to be gaslighting their supporters,” Sindano said, before adding that there are better ways to settle the grievances.

“Violence is certainly not one of them. Namibia is a peaceful country, and if there are people out there who feel that what NamRA did is wrong, procedures should be followed to take NamRA to task.” 

Sindano said leadership at all levels is needed to appeal to the better angel of humanity. 

“We are better than this. I understand that young people are hurting economically, but attacking businesses will only aggravate the situation. Namibia’s standing in the international community could easily be affected,” he said.

Sindano said at this economic juncture, Namibia cannot afford violence. 

“Whatever injustice we may experience, there are better ways to handle problems. Just because you have a bigger hammer do not treat all the problems as nails,” he said.


2022-05-16  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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