After we, employees of a Namibian tourism company (some of us still have our jobs, thank God, even though on minimum salary, some of us no longer have a job), read the letter from Gys Joubert (Gondwana Collection) to Antonio Guterres (WHO). we also have an urge to express ourselves. Will our little voices be heard just as loudly as those of the CEOs of big companies?

We. as people of this country, of this world. are entitled to our opinion, just as much as our “dearly beloved” president, Hage Geingob, who seems to have no financial worries and does not want to give us the truth. We just want that this letter will get out into the open and we really hope this letter will be able to even make 1% of a difference.

One of the most terrifying things for any human being is having no idea on how you will survive tomorrow. This unfortunately is the reality for many employees in Namibia’s tourism industry.

When this pandemic first started, we never imagined that it would take so much from us in such a short time. Most of us had hope that everything will be okay by July, July came, and everything stayed the same, yet nothing was the same anymore_ Some waited for September. and still no positive change. We started accepting the fact that it will take a while for our industry to go back to what it used to be.

In the meantime, most of us lost our jobs, are experiencing salary cuts and lost our livelihoods. A lot of us are going through depression and trauma because we are stuck and have lost all hope. Our government made us a promise to help us during these difficult times via the Social Security Commission (SSC) relief fund, They promised to help affected employees financially.

Unfortunately, most people did not get assistance and are still waiting till this very day. That is since March, and we nearly have November now.

And this is not for lack of trying! Emails were sent to the SSC by our employers, and guess what happened? An auto-response email stating: “Your email has been deleted without being read,’ Employers are informed that employees have never been registered with the SSC while a monthly contribution was paid for and by us for years; or apparently companies do not qualify for the relief fund as according to the SSC records they are not in the tourism industry: even though the business’ sole purpose is tourism, e.g. being an off-road car rental firm or inbound tour operator.

This begs the question to our president. Hage, where are these funds? Where is the promised support from Social Security? After seven months, many small businesses and us employees may not have survived but we could have — with a little bit of help…

Did the World Health Organization not also send funds to support Namibia and her people? Dear president Hage, we want to know what happened to those funds? What were they used for? Why are you not honest and answer these questions truthfully? You should be accountable to your people, to your country nothing was published to inform the public that funds were used for X, Y, Z. Was the money maybe pocketed? By whom? These are our real questions! And they need answers!

The tourism industry was always one of the biggest GOP contributors, it brought much foreign currency and employed a huge number of people, and paid many taxes – but now that the industry needs help, the Namibian government is nowhere to be found…

There seems to be this misconception that as soon as the borders open that everything will go back to normal. They believe that tourists will come running to Namibia. That is simply not the case. It is important to understand that although the Namibian borders are open to tourists, a lot of countries in Europe still don’t think it is safe to travel to Namibia, they still have closed borders and people are restricted from traveling. This means still no income for the industry in Namibia.

We understand that people fear Covid-19, But we fear the money-making schemes behind the virus more. There has been more than one scenario here in Namibia where persons, for example, registered for a COVID-19 test, but left the facilities before they were ever swabbed for the test. Yet, a few days later they received a message or call that unfortunately they tested positive for Corona – yes! What is the motivation behind this?

If we, and all people, do not start accepting the fact that this virus is going to be a part of our lives for a long time to come, then that means that tourism businesses will not go forward and we will have a huge economic problem. And what is your plan to support those hundreds of thousands of people who are directly and indirectly relying on the tourism industry for they livelihood? Is there a support plan? Or are we looking at another 100 000 people on the street, begging? It also seems as if government neglected other viruses and diseases such as Cancer, TB, Malaria and HIV, which are killing more people here than Covid-19. Help us understand!

We are all together in this big Covid-19 pandemic. People who are renting are asking their landlords to please come down with the rent. We plead, we ask nicely, and what are we told: “No, pay or leave,” where is the humanity in this? Where is the ‘we stand together and help each other’? Where is the “come talk to us so that we can help”?

Where is the “we must help each other in and through this Pandemic?

Suddenly also the grocery prices are going up. What? Where is the help by keeping the prices sustainable?

White bread for example before Covid was N$ 12.- Now, during Cavid it is between N$ 14.- and in Namibia we are suffering! We are one of the few countries with the lowest population, but still you find a lot of poverty. If you take the schools away, how many children are left without schooling? Do you want to tell me that the government cannot even help its own people? Do you want to tell me the government does not even put in effort to talk to their schools or businesses and ask them HOW to help?

Once again, where are the funds??

Where is the help from Social Security??

Still the Namibian people are paying their taxes. Where is that money going??

Where is the money that is there to help their people??

People here don’t care about this Covid anymore, they decided to live with it, like Swine Flu or Ebola, they are tired of hearing all this negative info regarding Corona. We have a much bigger killer here.

We really wonder if our government cares about its people? And what kind of example are they setting?! For example, the Ministry of Finance introduced a new online tax return system. The implementation thereof is flawed from bottom to top though. We, as tax payers have to go there. to ask for assistance from our public servants just to be sent from one floor to the next. from one person to the next and above all — these public servants are so rude to usl While they expect a full service from a car dealer, a wedding planner, a food vendor, most show no interest to deliver a service to their people.

We wonder__ many people in Namibia were retrenched and had to undergo severe salary cuts.

Did anyone at government level sacrifice an income or experience a salary cut? Yet, when you go to our Ministry of Finance, many employees sit on their phones, chat away, and read the newspaper; not bothering to help you, the tax-payer and public citizen in need. What is all this still going to lead to?

Based on the president’s and parliament’s choices; are you even taking your people, your country into consideration? And the impact your decisions will have?

No work, no pay,

No pay, no food, no housing, more poverty, and more beggars are on the street. Crime increases and your people feel unsafe.

No access to proper medical services, Namibians are left to fight this battle to survive, by themselves.

We see that our government has opened the borders and puts in the effort to revive the tourism industry. Or is this another way to sweep the hardships of the past under the carpet? Like so many issues before. Please, our president, give your people some answers and stand accountable! You have experienced hardship and fighting for survival and a better Namibia for all us before, right? After seven months of zero income, and with many difficult months ahead of us, we, your people, still need assistance. There is a sign of hope, but it will take some time!

Many of us are still jobiess, many did not benefit from any social security and are all still strugglingi We are taxpayers arid contribute highly to the economy of this country.

Don’t we deserve something?

Yours sincerely,

E & L for all Namibians