11 Dec 2014 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 11 DEC (NAMPA) - Human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe says the Namibian government should prioritise human rights rather than putting peoples lives at risk for self-gratification.
He said this during a public dialogue on land and housing here on Wednesday.
Tjombe, who is a Board Member of the Legal Assistance Centre, said Namibia is in a peculiar position regarding Human Rights Day, which is the single day in history that has caused the problems faced today with access to land and housing by many Namibians.
Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December every year, the day that the Universal Declaration was signed and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.
This declaration was the first that qualified human rights, he explained.
Tjombe noted that a right to housing means having security of tenure that one does not have a house one day and lose it the next.
He further said that the content of that right also means there must be the availability of services, materials and infrastructure in order to give content to the right to housing; and the house itself must be affordable.
The adequate house must also be habitable and accessible to the most vulnerable people, as there must be some set of priority for the elderly, people living with disabilities and children.
It does not make sense to have the wealthy and the elite having the first priority to access land whilst you have the elderly and old people poor and living on a pension, and in many cases not even receiving their pension, he said.
According to Tjombe, local governments have been created with the responsibility to ensure that these rights are enjoyed by residents, and that they have a priority to extend or facilitate the enjoyment of these human rights.
He said looking at governments priorities it is the lives of poor people that are being put at risk by putting them in public transport (buses) that are as old as 40 years, while priority is placed on Ministers lives that must now be driven in the latest Mercedes Benz models.
Tjombe further said President Hifikepunye Pohamba was completely wrong to reprimand Okahandja Mayor Valerie Aron and Councillor Steve Biko about dirtiness of Okahandja earlier this month.
He said both the mayor and councillors were never heard saying that once elected they would clean the town or ensure that the town was clean.
Tjombe added that people get elected into government not to perform what they are obliged to do by the Constitution, but simply come into those positions for self-gratification.