Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Hidipo Hamata this week tabled a motion in parliament asking the government to consider alternatives to the practice of redeployment to end long-distance marriages.
He said the practice of redeployment of spouses to different regions or towns has far-reaching consequences.
“When marriages are subjected to the challenges of long-distance living, the holiness of the family is eroded, affecting our communities and the social fabric of our nation,” he said.
Hamata said long-distance marriages are fragile.
“When a spouse is away for a long period, roles are reversed and this has an impact on all aspects of a family,” he said.
Hamata said a critical function of a family is parenting, and that families operate as miniature courts where sanctions for negative behaviour are imposed on children.
“The absence of a parent leads to the formation of dysfunctional families,” he said.
Hamata said couples are supposed to live together geographically and emotionally and settle down to child bearing and parenting while still progressing with their careers.
He said Namibians, especially those working in the banking, education, health, judiciary and safety and security sectors, are affected.
“The group of people who mostly get redeployed to other regions are the uniformed personnel, mostly the defence and police forces and immigration officers on call of duty.”
While redeployment does not consider one’s age, personal circumstances, or years of service, most of the officers are young people with young families, Hamata said.
“Being a single parent forces one to play the role of the absent parent,” he said.
Hamata said the children of parents in long-distance marriages experience single parenting since they are left in the care of one parent for many years.
“This leads to strong relationships with the available parent and estrangement from the absent one,” he said.
Hamata called on the parliament to take decisive action to protect families.
“Let’s explore innovative policies that safeguard the well-being of spouses, children and the holiness of marriage,” he said.
Supporting Hamata’s motion, deputy minister of finance and public enterprises Maureen Hinda-Mbuende said redeployment has a negative impact on families.
“We have absent fathers, we have broken families and children torn apart and missing out on guidance in their lives,” she said.
She said this wounds children and render them unable to develop other relationships.
According to Hinda-Mbuende, the topic of the separation of families due to redeployment requires more research.
“Psychologists need to be involved. All relevant stakeholders must come in to see what can be done that includes the Public Service Commission to see what our policies are lacking,” she said.
PDM president McHenry Venaani said Namibia has serious psychological problems.
“If wife A finds a job at Katima Mulilo and the husband lives in Windhoek, can you really maintain a 30-year relationship until the person retires?” he asked.
He said there are times when family matters are more important than a job.
“And when these families are broken, they become problematic,” he said.
Venaani said the majority of men are bullies, which results in assaulting their wives.
“Men by nature are bullies. It is true. The majority of young men find someone’s child, bombard her with gifts, and when she says she thinks the other man is more handsome than you, they start killing them,” Venaani said.
He said when the same thing happens to women, they deal with it.
“We are living in a broken society. I want honourable Hamata to include in his motion a discussion on husbands and men abusing women,” he said.