SADC urged to overcome challenges of indigenous people

14 Aug 2015 11:30am
By Maggy Thomas
GABORONE, 14 AUG (NAMPA) – Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs and Marginalised People, Royal /Ui/o/oo has called on governments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region who have San communities to work together to overcome challenges facing indigenous people.
“The common regional perspective will carry us forward and by working together across the borders, we can improve the lives of indigenous and marginalised communities, and learn from each other’s experiences,” said /Ui/o/oo on the sideline of the SADC-Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (CNGO) forum underway in Gaborone, Botswana.
/Ui/o/oo, who is also a San person, said indigenous people often find themselves in a disadvantaged socio-economic position, and hence issues of health, child poverty and limited education are particular problems facing them on a daily basis.
“Women, children and person with disabilities must be given the attention they need, especially in marginalised communities,” he said.
He indicated that when people are talking about the rights of indigenous people and marginalised groups, they have to understand that those rights are really the same rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, rights that should be realised for all people from all backgrounds.
These rights include their histories and cultures and their way of living in the past.
“We have made progress in recognising these differences in terms of history, culture and needs, but land, education and political representation are all areas which require attention to ensure that San people form an inclusive part of our nations in the region,” he said.
He called on SADC governments with San communities to emulate Namibia’s progress made so far and to include San communities in the larger society.
Namibia, under the new President Hage Geingob, now has a Ministry for Marginalised Communities with the aim to address their plight and work towards integration on all socio-economic levels.
“I am proud to say that we are pushing to bring all our people out of poverty under our progressive national targets, both through policy changes and implementing development programs,” he said.
The Namibian Government has engaged the International Labour Organisation through (the Indigenous and Tribal People Convention) and is in the process of developing a white paper on indigenous people.
In addition, Namibia now has a National Human Rights Action Plan for 2015 to 2019, which champions the combating of discrimination and improving access to education and services, among other areas.