Universal approach to pandemic impacts people differently, says Namibian activist

Authorities recommended staying at home, but people have no homes in poor countries, says former mayor in Southern African country

2022-05-14 19:19:56

ISTANBUL

The universal approach to the COVID-19 pandemic caused problems for poor countries, an activist and former mayor of the Namibian capital Windhoek said on Saturday.

Speaking at an event named NEXT, organized by the Turkish public broadcaster TRT World in Istanbul, Turkiye, Job Shipululo Amupanda noted that while stay-home mandates spread across the world during the pandemic, many people grappling with poverty had no homes to begin with.

"I come from a country that is one of the most unequal nations in Earth," Amupanda said at the one-day event, designed to tackle major issues facing the global community, aiming to bring together thousands of curious minds from Turkiye and other countries on May 14.

"When you have a lockdown where you have a lot of poor people, it impacts people differently compared to what is happening in the UK, for instance," he added.

Pointing to the limits placed by governments on the number of people at gatherings, he said: "In my grandmother's house, we (are) about 45. Breakfast was already breaching government regulations."

Changing working conditions induced by the pandemic, such as remote working, also caused serious social problems, such as unemployment, said Amupanda.

"Some people will say: 'I actually don't need 20 employees, I can do with five'," he added, noting that people should think of the cost of embracing technology.

The pandemic gave African people an opportunity to redefine how they see things in the world, dominated by capitalism and neoliberalism, he underlined.

Recalling that African leaders and senior officials fly to foreign countries for medical treatment whenever they get sick, he said: "During the pandemic, African leaders were trapped due to border closures and had to experience the limits of their own health systems.

"We were glad that the political elite were forced to use their infrastructure, and will now be motivated to improve it."