State’s Responsibility Towards Its Citizens

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By Dr Ben Mulongeni

In his book titled “The Politics”, the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle defines the role of the state towards its citizens: ” The state exists by nature.

The nature of a thing, is not its first but its final conditions; just as an individual man is the natural end of the process of human coming-to be, so too the state is the natural end and culmination of the other and earlier associations, which were themselves natural; the state therefore exist by nature. It provides all men’s needs (material, social, religions etc.) And offers them the fulfilment not only of living but of living well in accordance with those virtues that are peculiarly human.”

I have specifically chosen this particular definition for the polemical purpose of refuting those who wish to make people believe that the state was an artificial or a conventional creation. Aristotle further writes: “The state is thus all-providing, which is best, which is characteristic of natural ends.”

Hence it is, therefore, natural that citizens themselves, naturally, expect and look for help from the authorities that be.

I was born not so long ago but not quite late. As someone from the families of rulers and leaders, I know, from my childhood, very well about my caring responsibility toward the much poorer-to-do people (citizens) in villages under our jurisdictions.

It has been a custom and an accepted practice that when the poor of the poorest or some people who did not have quite an abundant harvest, turn to the richer neighbours, particularly the chiefs or headmen for some kilo’s of corn (mahangu or beans, or whatever was available) and are generously assisted.

It is a taboo to let people die of hunger while there are some who could help.

The proverb in my language thus goes “ino vaka ndele indila” (do not steal but ask or request) is a strong evidential support to my example given above.

It is, therefore, logical that a modern state, especially with the elected government, shall by obligation and mandate, naturally, be always ready to come to the assistance of its citizens when needs arise.

The Namibian government like any other good government is not an exception to these natural duties. It should not even be seen as a big deal for a government to assist its citizens in times of dire need.

It is rather diabolic for one to block, discourage or ridicule much needed assistance being channelled to poor citizens. In fact, that is what the citizens themselves, naturally, expect from their government. It is like children’s expectations from parents.

In its press release of 09 Jan 2008, the NSHR accused SWAPO Party of what it called “capitalising on the suffering of the drought-stricken subsistence farmers in order to stem losing members to the newly formed RDP”.

This press release first paragraph contains fundamental contradictions and I shall deal with them with a few questions and comments.

It correctly says that the farmers are suffering as a result of drought.

Who else if not those who are suffering from natural disasters such as drought, flood, fire, storms and other natural calamities must government assist?

Does the NSHR and its leaders wish that the elected government of SWAPO simply sit and let the suffering people die so that Phil Ya Nangolo and his followers will be able to throw a party to celebrate the exodus of the remaining, already, thin and skinny citizens from SWAPO to RDP?

The logical conclusion from this first paragraph is that SWAPO Party government should stop giving assistance to the suffering people so that they become angry with the SWAPO Party and as a result join the RDP.

It evidently shows that for Phil ya Nangoloh, the joining of RDP is more important than the well-being of the citizens.

What an inhuman approach? So let them suffer and die so that RDP can get support?

I am quite sure that RDP leaders themselves too, do have hearts.

I am also, naturally, sure that they too know their role as a “credible” opposition, also to call on the government where and when necessary to, please, assist the poor and the suffering people.

In fact this was predominantly the vocabulary of our opposition parties since independence in accusing the government of not doing anything or not enough of this or that.

Now whenever the government does this or that then some characters jump saying government is trying to bribe people for political gains.

Another interesting question for ya Nangoloh is: should people only join the RDP while Namibia has many other opposition parties? People have been joining other parties as well. In fact people have been, mostly, joining and rejoining SWAPO even when they were not suffering from drought.

Party Political Campaigns

It is interesting to note that Namibia’s human rights body and its activists are practically involved in a heavy and titanic campaign against the most successful party in today’s Namibia, namely SWAPO.

The Namibian public has been receiving a lot of demagogically crafted promises especially from opposition parties: Campaigning for the seat of the regional councillor near Rundu, my namesake and friend Ben Uulenga promised to sort out all problems faced by a single tribe – the Nyemba people in Kavango.

The DTA president promised them tractors to plough their fields. Katuutire Kaura also promised that the pension money would be increased to N$1000-00.

Next year no one will be surprised if Kaura promises them another increase to N$5000-00 since he has been doing it for some years back.

Continue Hon. I am also about to retire in a few years. By then, if DTA is still around and in opposition Kaura will promise the citizen an increase from N$5000 to N$10 000-00.

This time most unemployed Namibians will change their dates of birth.
This time many will leave poorly paid jobs to become pensioners.
This time our Independent Ave will experience a human traffic jam of foreigners looking for Namibian citizenship.

If ya Nangoloh was irritated by promises of political parties, why did he not say a word about promises made by opposition parties including RDP, RP, COD, NUDO- “MUDO” and others, why?

To show that this piece is not merely defending SWAPO for SWAPO’s sake, but rather pointing out the truth and to expose lies and unholy agendas, that is why I also believe that it is not only a SWAPO government that can assist farmers when needed. Maybe the difference will be who can do it better.

As a reminder, it should also be pointed out, here, that the government has not only been, all along, promising people assistance of this nature, it has been doing it since independence.

Where have these people been living to wake up, only now, to hear these promises made by SWAPO leaders?

As early as 1992, in my capacity as chief Editor of Namibia Review, together with other colleagues from different media institutions including Chris Jakobie, Republikein, CNN award winner Linnette Smith, NBC, I accompanied the then Deputy Minister of Land Dr Markus Shivute to the North-Eastern Regions of Namibia, namely Kavango and Caprivi.

There we photographed, filmed and wrote about the distribution of tonnes of bags of maize meal, boxes of cooking oil, tins of fish and beans and many other food items.

Then SWAPO government was still in a honeymoon but could still be able to concentrate and notice that some of its citizens were suffering and sent needed support.

By that time, RDP was not even dreamed of, at least not by the voters. Although one cannot speak for its founders.

Let me also speak in my professional capacity as Director of Planning and Development for Khomas Region, and there are 12 other Directors of Planning in Namibia. Rural Development is also under my directorate.

Mr ya Nangoloh must be informed that assistance to the citizens in Namibia is a policy issue. Has he not heard of things like food for work, cash for work, and free food assistance to needy people living with HIV/Aids and drought relief programmes?

Come to my office and learn, it is for one’s own good so that you can sound normal when you speak next time on this issue.

– Dr Ben Mulongeni serves as Director of Planning and Development Services – Khomas Region. He is a political scientist and a journalist.

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