PM and MPs condemn claims of slavery in Namibia

30 Oct 2013 19:40pm
WINDHOEK, 30 OCT (NAMPA) – Prime Minister Hage Geingob on Wednesday condemned claims by the Walk Free Foundation that Namibia is amongst the worst countries in the world when it comes to practices of modern-day slavery.
According to the foundation, Namibia has about 16 000 slaves, and has been ranked number 46th out of 162 countries on the Global Slavery Index for 2013 released early this month.
The foundation’s mission is to end modern day slavery by mobilising a global movement and generating the highest quality of research.
Countries such as Lesotho is placed 44th with 14 560 slaves, and Zimbabwe is number 45th with 93 749 slaves.
Other countries in the region with high numbers of slaves are Uganda at 25th with 254 541 slaves; Tanzania 29th with 329 503 slaves; Malawi 33rd with 110 391 slaves; Mozambique 35th with 173 493 slaves; Botswana 39th with 14 298 slaves, and Zambia 40th with 96 175 slaves.
“I would like to out rightly condemn the Global Slavery Index and reject it with the contempt it deserves,” Geingob lashed out in Parliament.
He said the report seems to imply Government complicity, “and that is completely outrageous”.
The premier said Namibia fought for human dignity, and ensured that the dehumanising methods practiced by the apartheid regime would be eradicated for good.
“Yes, we are aware that we are still battling the lingering effects of that regime such as economic exclusion, but to imply that close to 16 000 Namibians are under some form of slavery is completely dubious and false,” he stressed.
Geingob pointed out that the researchers are busy looking at the wrong country, citing a recent incident in which a man in Ohio in the Midwestern United States of America (USA) had locked up three women with chains in the basement of his house for about a decade.
The Namibian government, he said, has made amendments to the Labour Act to severely limit or prevent labour-hire companies from operating in the country.
“Government in collaboration with labour unions has ensured that the rights of workers are protected,” the Prime Minister stated.
Geingob then invited members of the Walk Free Foundation to pay a visit to Namibia, before stating that he would gladly meet them to take them on tour to all the areas where slavery “exists” in the country.
“Your ratings and so-called indexes will not change any views on this country and the progress that we have made to fight for human rights,” he said.
Sharing his sentiments, Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said certain people on earth should be introspective enough to assume the responsibility and the harm they have caused to the human race.
She said certain countries have come to be what they are on account of the fact that they have eliminated the indigenous people of those countries.
“They eliminated them physically, not only that, they enslaved them, and I thought this people would be the least to raise issues where they are taken completely out of context just because they want to clear their conscience,” said the Home Affairs Minister.