Prioritise food production - Shaningwa

By Maria Kandjungu

SWAPO secretary general Sophia Shaningwa has said that residents complaining about unfair food distribution and being left off the list of relief food beneficiaries have the right to be angry because they are hungry and need to feed their families.

“They have all the right to be angry. They are fighting a double battle of hunger on top of coronavirus. When you are hungry you get angry at everything.”

Shaningwa who made several food donations to disadvantaged communities around Windhoek last week, told Confidente that the fight is not just to end coronavirus but also against hunger and food insecurity.

“In a situation like this, for these people it is not simple to just stay at home and social distance. They live more than ten of them in a shack. These people are not able to provide for their families if they cannot go out and sell. There is hunger in the shacks so they are frustrated and angry. I truly understand that. Nobody was prepared for this and the people are angry because the situation sprang on them and they see us distributing food and some of them are left out and that is painful.”

The donations by Shaningwa and also by the Muslim community of about 500 parcels (with 50 parcels per location) left hundreds of equally needy residents empty-handed, most whom expressed anger and frustration over what they deemed as “unfair” food distribution.

Shaningwa told Confidente that more than ever government needs to look into sustainable food production to feed the nation as the country cannot continue to depend on South Africa and good Samaritans to feed its people.

“Now is the time that we start to produce food to feed ourselves. When we have rain we must produce, because if things like this happen again, what will we do? What if we do not have good Samaritans to feed people? What if the situation becomes dire and South Africa only has enough to feed their own people? What will we do if South Africa tomorrow says they only have enough food to export to other countries? What happens when food gets finished in Shoprite and Pick n Pay, those are foreign owned companies.”

She said the coronavirus pandemic should put the country on a steep learning curve for leaders to start thinking and putting more focus on farming.

“This disease is telling us something. Are we going to be given food for the rest of our lives? We as government and leaders need to start thinking on how we can take care of our people. This food we are providing to people today is perhaps only enough for two to three weeks. The N$750 is not enough, we need to think and plan differently.

“We need to look into government buying farms. We have enough productive land in Kavango and Zambezi, we also have land there in Otjiwarongo, Otavi and Tsumeb around those areas. We need to get people producing food because this cannot continue. We cannot continue like this. Our people need food, they are hungry. We need to produce for ourselves.”

She added that it is time that leaders come together, irrespective of party political affiliation to find a way forward.

“We have food schemes like Etunda and we need to quickly make a plan to bring food to the people in need. We need to make a market for them so that it is brought to the people. If it was up to me, if I had the power I would make government shops for government green schemes in different locations so that all food without space in the big shops gets space in those stores and is sold to community at a reasonable price.”

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