Just for the record, I am not writing on behalf, neither am I representing a specific view, of the Kalimbeza community, but as a concerned Namibian citizen and respectively a native of Kalimbeza, just like other countless people out there, I deserve answers on this issue. Please, allow me to air a few concerns on the operations of Kalimbeza rice project in the Zambezi region.
Firstly the community of Kalimbeza sacrificed and availed thousands of acres of our grazing and crop fields of land to government, in order for it to create what was supposed to be the biggest employment creator in the area, and hopefully one of the biggest local food suppliers in the country! Ironically, it turned out to be the opposite, as the project itself has consumed more from the government coffers than it has given to the community and the Nation. Metaphorically “Kalimbeza rice project, is a diary cow that eats more fodder, but does not produce a single drop of milk” who needs such a cow anyway?
I am quite disappointed and saddened to see how much and for how long government keeps on investing in this project, without the nation and the community having to see any tangible results neither on community or national level! In my mind, I have came to conclude that, the whole project will end up being a flop if nothing is done immediately to rescue it from this imminent demise, as we have seen it before with other similar projects in the area!
The project was incepted back in 2007, where it merely started just as a research project that was spearheaded by the University of Namibia’s faculty of agriculture, and it was later handed on to a government subsidiary called Agribusdev, whose main mandate is “Managing and Supervising the Green Scheme Program in Namibia” to achieve desired objectives of the Green Scheme Policy. Ironically, around 700 000 Namibians are food insecure, yet Agribusdev has more than 11 green schemes. (Erastus, N. 2020, June 6th. The Namibian Newspaper, p12).
Similarly, 15 years later, Kalimbeza project seems to yield nothing, but just the corroding and aging multi million dollars infrastructure! I don’t really grasp where the problem lays, because government has invested more money in this project’s infrastructure starting from administration and storage buildings, silos, state of the art farm implements such as tractors planters and harvesters, tarred road, weigh bridge and the list goes on.
Secondly the management and the overall day to day running of the project itself, also raises more questions than answers, as the treatment that has been received by our people is quite inhuman. This is in reference to the part-time(casual) workers who go months without receiving their salaries. I for one have worked there and I can attest to it, as I have seen it first hand, where workers will go up to six months without payment. This is happening in an independent Namibia, all in the name of alleviating poverty and hunger! What an irony indeed! One thing am sure is, people are really angry, as literally “A hungry man, is an angry man”. I could really sense it their speech, during our interactions, but unfortunately afraid to speak out, as their jobs hangs on a thread!!
Come to think of it, I cant help but wonder with a few questions, if indeed there is a proper structure above, that ensures that the project is running smoothly and accordingly. If there is, are they really aware that there are casual workers working there, just to try to make ends meet for their families!!? Are the proper annual audits done to this project or not? Like I said earlier on, as a concerned community member and a citizen I deserve to know.
Thirdly, the fear of failure of this project is not just imaginative but, comes from experience! In the same Kalimbeza community, we had a fish-farming project that was fully funded by government, where it invested millions in infrastructure, but the project just died a natural death. The infrastructure was vandalised and few greedy ones among us took government properties for themselves.Astonishingly, up to this day no one has been charged or taken accountability of it. Equally we don’t want to see the similar situation happen to the rice project, as this is our only hope to fight unemployment and poverty in our community and Namibia as a whole.
In conclusion, based on this background one may ask that is this all brought by a question of grass-root leadership or is a lack of monitoring and supervision from the top? Nevertheless, I think we need an immediate intervention to this one, because as a community we have lost enough already, so we cant afford to loose anymore!
By Derrick Masangu( Blogger)