Government’s plan to convert the existing food bank into a cash-based-transfer was met with derision.
Both Landless People’s Movement (LPM) and pressure group Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement opposed to the mooted conversion.
The announcement to transform the existing food bank to a cash-based transfer (CBT) was made by President Hage Geingob last week.
LPM’s deputy leader Henny Seibeb said President Geingob is using the CBT to rescue the fading voter confidence in the ruling party ahead of the 2024 presidential and national elections.
He said the same tactic has been previously used by countries to manipulate vulnerable people to garnish voter confidence, and he would not be surprised if Swapo is using the same tactic.
“LPM would, thus, not be surprised that after their Swapo president, who at the same time heads the current government, is on the same path to introduce drastic social reforms using a similar tactic,” Seibeb said.
The food bank, since its launch in 2016, has benefited 45 000 Namibians from 11 000 households in peri-urban and urban areas.
As directed by the Harambee Prosperity Plan II, the government has until the end of next year to make the transition.
Food bank administrator Tangeni Mwashekele told New Era last week that the transition is still at the documentation phase.
Seibeb, however, acknowledges that CBT impact communities, as it reduces household unemployment, financial dependency on the employed members of the household and attain a meaningful economic stability through collected tax, resulting from increased spending by the beneficiaries on daily commodities.
He said the “cash” concept is not new to Namibia, and it has proven to work during a pilot project, which was done at Otjivero-Omitara in 2006 already by the basic income grant coalition (BIG).
Seibeb said his party is aware of the calls led by BIG through civil and faith-based organisations for government to implement a universal BIG as opposed to conditional grants.
“We, thus, call on the head of State and his advisors to seriously pursue finding common ground with the BIG coalition on the most viable and feasible CBT scheme if such an initiative is ever to succeed,” he said.
AR spokesperson Simon Kanepolo said the food bank is a failed project, and proposed that the money be redirected to food production in the Kavango and Zambezi regions.
“Money must be injected in the economy to create jobs for the children of the elderly who get food parcels,” said Kanepolo.
As it is, Kanepolo said, the distribution of food remains a fire lighter for lazy Namibians.
President Geingob has recently vehemently opposed a universal BIG.
During the Covid-19 briefing at the end of July, Geingob asked, “Why should it be everybody getting the amount? Why don’t we look at needs; why should I get the same as the person in Katutura in the street? Does it make sense?”
The President further noted that those with abilities should be provided with facilities and conducive environments, which they could use to generate their own income, so that government only concentrates on the needy and poor.