The majority of OvaHimba and San communities are saying they did not receive the N$750 emergency income grant (EIG) that government paid to people on the basis they lost income and the unemployed since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The once-off income grants, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, were part of the stimulus package initiated by government to financially help out those who endured economic hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic that has affected tourism, aviation, construction and other sectors in Namibia.
‘Marginalised communities from Otjaandjamwenjo, Otjamaungu, Ombambihaka, Otjimanangombe, Amarika and Onkaankaa areas in Ruacana and Otamanzi constituencies say they did not benefit from the income grant that is paid on self-assessments.
The reason they did not get these grants is that they do not possess any national documents that are a prerequisite for applicants to benefit, and that they also do not have mobile numbers or even the mobile handsets. According to the councillors of those constituencies, the Himbas and San community members in the Omusati region did not manage to apply because most of them do not have mobile phones and those who have cannot read and write to complete the application process that is self-assessing.
“The Himbas who managed to get IDs from the Ministry of Home Affairs lost and never replaced them, while those who have phones cannot read and write to complete the process,” said the official from the councillor of the Ruacana constituency office who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity because the official is not authorised to speak to the media.
Andreas Shintama, the councillor of Ruacana constituency, said it is a concern that those people will not be able to benefit due to those mentioned challenges, despite the fact that they needed that money the most to buy basic food and essentials.
According to the Otamanzi councillor, Johannes Iyambo, only three people who had cellphones benefitted from that grant from the two villages. Iyambo said according to the information from the headmen and coordinators, only three people so far registered themselves successfully and received their money.
“It is a big concern; our people did not benefit because they do not have cellphones and again most of them do not have national identification cards; they only have birth certificates,” he further explained.
He said his office has made a follow up at those villages until last week Friday but the figures of the beneficiaries did not increase.
“I think I will approach the office of the governor to determine the way forward because our people are already vulnerable and this would not be a good thing if they did not benefit,” observed the concerned constituency councillor. However, the development planner in the Office of the Vice President’s Directorate of Marginalised Communities in the Omusati region, Senia Endjala, said there is one person who tried to apply for more people but up to now, those people have not yet been approved to receive their grant.
“Now, again, our people are up in arms accusing that girl of receiving the money on their behalf and having used it, but the truth is those people have not yet been approved,” she further explained.
Endjala said she would make arrangements to register them individually through their headman and coordinator.
“If we succeed in registering them manually for them to get hard cash, we will forward the list to the Ministry of Finance for approval,” she said. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu, acknowledged they have received many calls from the councillors complaining there is lack of information regarding the marginalised people. He said the ministry has made provision for the people who do not have cellphones to apply manually on a dedicated form.
He said this information has already been communicated to the heads of the affected regions. Shidhudhu urged the councillors to use manual forms to apply for the eligible people who only have IDs.
“The verifications are underway and people should make use of this time to sort out those issues because, after 18 May, the new applications will no longer be entertained,” he said. – email@example.com