A reality that emerged is that debt has become a lifeline for many Namibians. A significant number of Namibians faced many financial adversities during the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Businesses lost their clients and employees lost their jobs or a certain percentage of their earnings. This affected most Namibians with continuous worry about their finances, and responsibilities, making them acquire many debts as they live from pay cheque to pay cheque.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the current financial situation has not only created an environment of constant stress but has also led to a cycle of debt.
Financial stress can be defined as the negative consequences derived from the inability to meet financial demands, afford the necessities of life and have sufficient funds to make ends meet.
This kind of stress can be due to a lack of financial planning, a large amount of debt one cannot pay off, living pay cheque to pay cheque, irresponsible spending or not prioritising your spending and inadequate savings.
Other causes may be a situation where expenses are greater than the income, unexpected expenses that you could not foresee or loss of employment or income. Financial stress has so many negative impacts on all aspects of our life.
This deep-seated stress has an impact on mental health, and it can cause emotional stress, namely anger, fear, anxiety and – in most cases, depression, which at times leads to alcohol and drug abuse.
Many believe that financial stress affects only the working class. Unfortunately, this is false. Financial stress does not discriminate – no one is safe in this regard.
One could argue that the working class is the least affected as compared to the non-working or retired class. However, there is a need to bear in mind that there is a high percentage of employed persons in Namibia that are underpaid.
If one person in the family is financially deprived, everyone in the family shares the same destress, given that such a person is often the breadwinner and everyone in his/her household depends on them for their personal needs – apart from food.
The children get depressed because they often remain hungry for lengthy periods, and they have to walk miles to get to school.
The elderly use up all their pension funds to build a better retirement home; thus, the breadwinner has to cover all their medical expenses.
The wife/husband also has a low-paying job and needs transport fare to go to work every day – or worst-case scenario – both wife and husband do not work.
With the high rate of suicide in Namibia, one can conclude that the deep-seated threat due to finances is most definitely one that takes up the greater percentage.
Most of our Namibian people survive solely on debt and bank overdrafts. What they earn is already spent even before payday. This reality has become the new normal, especially with the fact that inflation rates keep rising. Moreover, whether or not one sits at home all day, the effects will reach their home.
This leaves the majority of the population with little to less hope in the promised future of a poverty-free Namibia. Financial hopelessness leads to stress in many cases, because where hope does not exist, despair and fear are dominant.
Today, the greatest threat that faces us all is the inability to live a debt-free and financially stress-free life. However, the golden question is how then shall we make sure that this threat does not persist?
Given the minimal, surely something can be done if we can all try our best to live within our means until the world completely recovers if ever.
* Melania Simeon is a postgraduate student in higher education at the International University of Management. This essay is part of her annual assessment.