Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Cultural Differences in Namibia

We have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. This is the only explanation of the total lack of information based on cultural affiliations in our census in Namibia. Unfortunately, this attitude of “let’s pretend it is not there” does not make it so.

Even in South Africa, where the Apartheid system was the most formalised, they have recognised the need to keep the information and knowledge of all cultural groups as part of the “rainbow nation”. Discrimination because of race colour or culture is a thing of the past and is replaced by recognition and acceptance of our differences.

We have also outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender, yet still need this categorisation to measure the needed changes that must take place in our country for gender equality. In the same way it is important to note that when a previously marginalised group, such as the San people, have qualified teachers from within their own tribe and culture (Republikein – 14 April 2009).

The lack of recognition of certain groups can have detrimental affects on our country. Look at what has happened to some of our pre-Independence orphans who returned from East Germany. More recently we have seen the SWAPO veterans and orphans also wishing to be recognised as a distinct group with specific needs. In the near future we will see a new group forming of AIDS orphans who have grown up differently with specific disadvantages that need to be addressed to allow them to fully pluck the fruits of our freedom. What culture shall all these groups inherit?

There is a national culture Namibia. Thus we can refer to our language as Namlish with its peculiarities and pronunciations. We are known by our friends and foes on the sport fields as the Brave warriors and the Biltongboere.

In business we refer to the marketing process. It starts with an analysis of the present and then moves to develop a strategy. In marketing it is recognised that to provide the best product for the customer you need to segment the market. Tools such as the Living Standards Measurement are used to focus our marketing efforts. A typical LSM would include age, gender, race or cultural group and income. (Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) household surveys have become an important tool in measuring and understanding poverty in developing countries.)

The people of Namibia are the customer. To serve our people better we must recognise our difference not only in gender or language but also in race. The census in Namibia must measure the race and culture embraced by each resident in future.

The tertiary education institutes in Namibia must then participate in research focussing on cultural, racial, gender, urban-rural economic and livelihood inequalities in Namibia. This ongoing research must continue to ask what the relationship is between the growth and spatial distribution of the public and private economic sectors. It must also encompass the formal and informal economy, the nature of poverty, the characteristics of poor areas, and socio-economic empowerment.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Charter of Namibian Consumer Rights

Proposed Charter of Namibian Consumer Rights
1. The right to basic goods and services which guarantee survival.
2. The right to be protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous to health and life.
3. The right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labelling.
4. The right to choose products and services at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
5. The right to express consumer interests in the making and execution of government policy.
6. The right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
7. The right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed consumer.
8. The right to live and work in an environment which is neither threatening nor dangerous and which permits a life of dignity and well-being.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Induction Training for Parliamentarians

As part fo the run-up to our national elections, we have to consider the induction training that parliamentarians should be getting.

As a nation we must understand and respect the institutions which propose debate and make our laws. Too many times I have heard people say “these politicians – they are only in it for what they can get”. The Parliament has as its duty the education of the citizens in how we can make use of them to improve our daily lives. Essentially, I would like to see private citizens being able to propose laws to their representatives and have these submitted in Parliament. Unfortunately most of us accept that our laws are submitted by bureaucrats (government employees) working under the orders of the Minster involved. Thus in fact not separating the executive from the legislature, but rather having the parliament become a rubber stamp for decisions made by the ruling party and its ministers.

We also have to recognise that being a Member of Parliament is a way for an individual to contribute his or her experience for the improvement of our country, rather than a career path. In recent times we have seen young people become members of parliament only to be caught up in acts which bring disrepute to the institution. This can only be corrected if members of parliament have reached a certain amount of material independence to allow them to vote for what they think is right, and not what will ensure their present income.

I propose the Parliament Administration create a school for potential parliamentarians. This can be done during the recess periods and will allow interested persons to gain first-hand experience on what would be expected from them if they enter the Parliament.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Consumer Protection in Namibia

Whenever we hear about consumer rights, we must look closely, because there is sure to be a “consumer activist” in the area. What is this activist doing and what is their goal?

According to definition, consumer activism is undertaken on behalf of consumers to assert consumer rights. Goals can include making products or services that are directed at consumers safer, of better quality as well as making them more readily available. The ideal goal is to push consumers to question the morality of a purchased product's origins.

Consumer activist tactics can include boycotts, petitioning the government, media activism, and organising interest groups

The most common tactic is to have protest marches in order to gain political influence (make the politicians listen). By gaining this influence, the group gains new political opportunities as well as access to resources such as donor money, to use for their benefit. This in turns allows for funding of further activities to protest and get the message heard.

One of the most important decisions by a consumer protection group must be the identification of a visible, clear, and despicable target that will allow for unification and mobilisation of consumers.

In Namibia, there are many businesses (and their products) that make consumers angry. In an informal survey, they most common culprits are banks, insurance companies and government. As for products, the most often cited is the lack of control on freshness of products, be they fruit and vegetables, milk or bread.

The most vexing question must remain however, what power do consumers have. It is easy to advocate not “banking for a day”, or not buying from a certain retailer, but this would need concerted effort from all consumers, not just the activists.

Consumers need to stand up for their rights. Government has to enact legislation to protect consumers, AND punish businesses that do not comply.

The Namibia Consumer Protection Group is holding a protest march on 15 March 2010 to push for recognition of this day as Consumer Rights Day.

You can join the Namibia Consumer Protection Group on Namibia Consumer Protection Group or at NCPG on Facebook.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Shortest job I ever had

I just probably had the shortest job in my life. A few weeks back I had been offered the job of Head: Corporate Sales at Legalshield Namibia and I thought it would be great opportunity to get back in the Corporate world – rather than working for myself ;-).

Anyway, was supposed to start on Nov2 and went there with high expectations. Unfortunately, they have believed someone else’s version of events of what happened at the ICT Alliance (If you remember – this was the organisation that could not pay me a salary for a part-time job but still wanted to have a disciplinary hearing after I had resigned at IIT.)

So, twenty minutes later – I walked out and like always, thanked God for guiding my life.

Funnily enough, one of my best friends for over 30 years had warned me about the job. He was arrested at his company on Wednesday and had wanted a lawyer. Even though he had paid-up membership of over three years, they refused him the services of a lawyer.

So all’s well that ends well. I am back on my own and running NamBizDotCom – AND it feels good.

Thought for the week:
“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”