Economic rights are human rights

By Victor Angula /

Namibia and the rest of the world observed the Human Rights Day (10 December) or probably will do so today or in the course of the week since the day fell on a weekend.

This day is worth observing or commemorating or maybe even celebrating since it’s the day out of all the 365 days of the year which is dedicated to the concept of “human rights”.

Assuming that we all have an idea what are the human rights, or that we know most of the common human rights, we might do well to also take note that “economic rights” are also part of human rights.

One would say that in Namibia we are doing fairly well in terms of respect for human rights, especially the common human rights like respect for human life and that nobody must be arrested without a good reason.

But in terms of respect for economic rights, Namibia is doing very badly. And this was stated today on the NBC National Radio’s World at Six news programme by former Ombudsman Advocate John Walters.

Walters said that the concept of respect of human rights in Namibia is questionable since so many people live in undignified conditions of lack of housing and no proper sanitation.

He is right.

The mushrooming of shacks and informal settlements in a country that has such abundant natural resources, this is an abuse of human rights.

And the government of Namibia must be condemned for this. Civil society and the business sector need to be condemned for this. Especially the business community, the business community is lazy and uninterested in the idea of spreading the economic rights to everyone.

Of course everyone blames the government, because it’s the government of the day that has power to make laws and come up with policies that can transform the economy. But in a free market a government will not be able to do much if there is resistance to transformation in the business community.

In a free market the transformation is supposed to come from within, instead of being forced by the government.

Therefore as we observe human rights day, let’s also recognise the fact that so many children have died in Namibia as a result of the fact that they were born in poverty; and so many have failed to finish school or go to university due to the fact that they come from poor and filthy backgrounds.

So many young men have resorted to crime because they have never known economic rights.

More than half of the population’s potential has been going to waste because the people have no economic rights. And as a result whatever human rights they might have, it is meaningless.

– Victor Angula is the editor of Omutumwa News Online. He can be reached at