Unhappiness over beneficiary registrations

26 June 2019 | Local News

A decision by government to exclude households with a combined income of more than N$2 600 from getting drought assistance has been heavily criticised.

It is being argued that not all working people support their families, while those with lower incomes are saying they have many debts and are left with nothing after these are paid.

There have now been calls for the registration process to be redone.

Regional councils conducted identification and registration programmes for drought relief last month and the names of the identified beneficiaries were submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

Among the excluded households are those where more than one family member receives social grants and households with members residing in towns.

An 83-year-old pensioner from Ohakweenyanga village in the Oshana Region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ewi lyaNooli that when they went to register, they were told that the majority of their household members are in the south, and it was assumed they are working. He said the support he gets from his children does not come on monthly basis and this cannot be the reason they are excluded.

“The official who was registering people is from our village and she knows our house very well.

"She is right that the majority of my children are working, but she knows little about the support they give to the house.

"It does not mean when children are working they are supporting their households,” he said.

“Both my wife and I get social grants, which is N$2 500 per month. This money is not enough to take care of the house in a drought crisis like this. Our mahangu storage is empty and our livestock have nothing to eat or drink. We have to give them water from our privately connected pipe, which will be costly.”

A 78-year-old grandmother from Oipapakane village in the Ohangwena Region, who also did not want to be identified, said she is taking care of 10 of her grandchildren.

She gets a monthly pension grant of N$1 250, while six of her schoolgoing grandchildren also get N$250 each a month.

“I was told that we cannot be registered because we are already benefitting a lot from the government. Our total income for the house is N$2 750 a month. This money is not only for food; you have to buy clothes for them, you have a water bill to be paid, we also have other commitments,” she said.

“How can someone really say we are benefitting a lot from the government just by getting N$2 750 a month? This is unfair. My children are not working, they are only struggling and their support to the house is not sufficient and it is not on a monthly basis.”

Omusati regional council chairperson Modestus Amutse admitted they have received complaints from members of the public regarding the drought registration.

Amutse said if a household has a combined income of more than N$2 600 per month, then it should be able to buy a bag of maize meal, because their situation is not like those who do not have any income.

“We trained our officials and also educated them on how to assess the drought beneficiaries. It is wrong for our officials to turn away people like pensioners just because they get they get social grants. All we wanted was to give a chance to those that are in need, otherwise the food will not be enough and distribution will also be difficult. We are aware that there are some government officials demanding to be registered, claiming that they are also affected by the drought,” Amutse added.