Merry Christmas Mr. Sajid Javid
Merry Christmas Mr. Sajid Javid

Merry Christmas Mr. Sajid Javid

Dear Mr Javid

I address this letter to you from my country Namibia. You can find us in Southwest Africa – however, from your actions it seems clear that you know very little about us.

Unfortunately, we know a lot about you because your – and your government’s actions have a direct and even determining impact on our lives.

You see, when you decided to cut us off from the UK, quickly followed by the EU, our very fragile world came tumbling down – again. Overnight we became outcasts; to be avoided at all costs. I still don’t understand why, I can only assume it is because we are neighbours to South Africa and Botswana where the new Omicron variant was identified.

On Sky News you explain your actions as follows, and I quote:

“Given the number of mutations in this new variant, there is reason to think, it may be, and I stress the word ‘may’ that this variant may turn out to make our vaccines less effective; it may not. We just don’t know enough.... we need to learn to live with Covid.”

The devastatingly negative impact of your travel ban on our country was both instant and guaranteed. No luxury that it “may” cause damage to the tourism industry in Namibia and the whole of Southern Africa. No, the damage was guaranteed and indeed it has now realized.

So, if this was always the guaranteed cost of your decision, what was the amazingly high upside on your side that justified this instant cost to thousands of livelihoods? It was that you might avoid getting a variant that “may” make vaccines less effective. So far, this approach has not worked. Covid-19 has literally spread to every nook and cranny of the world. And so the variant, as predicted, has arrived in Belgium (still waiting for the travel ban to Belgium to be announced); and now even your own shores.

You speak of the “proportionate and balanced actions that we have taken”. I assume you will now close down your economy. No? Pubs, football stadiums? Surely that would be an overreaction and too costly. A real kneejerk reaction, wouldn’t you agree?

You see Mr. Javid, from this side of the world your actions can only be seen as balanced and proportionate if we are simply dispensable. We are simply not important.

Here at Gondwana Collection Namibia, October was our first breakeven month in more than 20 months. We have not retrenched a single soul. We did lose more than 30% of our workforce because some people could simply not afford to keep on working for us given the pay cuts and lack of certainty. Month after month, day after day, we kept on fighting, hoping, praying and working for our beloved company. For our communities. And for our 950 employees that are left.

For our beloved tourism industry in Namibia.

For the past month, we here in Namibia had (on average) less than 20 new Covid-19-cases per day, yet we are now isolated as if we have the plague.

This variant was discovered in the first place because of brilliant South African science and scientists who did their work with transparency and inclusivity in mind. Despite the desperate urge for us to plead with them to next time keep their discovery silent, we will not do that. We will celebrate African brilliance and African science, and we will continue to congratulate them, to support them to keep on doing the right thing to make the world a better place.

This is the real concern I have with you and the other so called “first-world” countries’ conduct during this global pandemic. Inclusivity is all but dead. It is every country for herself, every man for himself. What illustrates this better than the fact that earlier this year your 18-year-old child could get vaccinated before my 80-year-old mother?

What world are we building if some of humanity is simply less important • even dispensable? Economic apartheid?

Mark Twain said that history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme. What do you think will grow from these seeds that you and your fellow “leaders” are planting today?

Tourism stands for exactly the opposite of this. The more we visit each other, the more we learn from each other, the more we respect each other and the more we learn to love each other. A more inclusive world.

Today, I walked into the office to deal with the bloodbath of cancellations, refunds and tears. My fellow Gondwana brothers and sisters will ask silent questions like, will we still have a job by Christmas?

You told the Sky News reporter than in the UK, “I think it is going to be a great Christmas”.

All I can say is, Merry Christmas Mr. Javid


Gys Joubert

Gondwana Namibia Managing Director


Allgemeine Zeitung 2023-06-09

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