As with the OAU and AU dreams, we in Namibia have a fundamental question to answer, namely is our dream in danger of being deferred and thus can lead to explosion?
It would appear that the answers to this question are determined by where people are seated in relation to political and economic power. Those who are in power and got the government tenders are hasty to answer that we are right on track, because answering it differently would suggest their own failure.
Those who are not, or who are no longer close to power, would say that the dream began to hemorrhage the moment they left. Those in charge of so-called traditional authorities are the least interested in national unity, as it does not serve their immediate sectarian power and material interests.
A lot has been written about why things went wrong and continue to go wrong in Afrika. The greater consensus is that the Afrikan crisis is a crisis of leadership. Resources are in abundance – from sun to water to fertile land to human capital to goodwill to peace to literacy to political commitment.
Still the problem is leadership. Of all leadership models, it is the Afrikan one that appears recalcitrant to adapt to changing circumstances and conditions. Afrikan leaders appear more greedy than others in terms of the gap between the rulers and the ruled.
Whereas other leaders are corrupt and greedy, it is the Afrikan leaders who go overboard with pomposity, live beyond their nations’ means, and continue to eat on behalf of their poor citizens. It is Afrikan leaders that seem not to feel the pain of their own people the moment they reach the top. It is Afrikan leaders who insist to be called things they know very well they are not.
It is Afrikan leaders, who engage in funny habits they themselves do not understand and the origins of which they cannot explain. For instance, where the parliamentary system emanates from (Great Britain, France and the USA), members of the legislative houses call themselves Honourable only when they are officially in session. When they leave they are normal people with names.
The year Nelson Mandela died, the count of his honorary doctoral degrees was on 151 and at no time did he parade himself as Doctor Mandela. He even refused to be called His Excellency, as he always argued that people elected him to be president, period!
He did not need it to be relevant and significant. This is why he was respected around the world as a different Afrikan leader.
Both the OAU and the current AU became platforms of bogus orchestration of ceremony and display of ill power by Afrikan leaders who have no honour in their own backyards. NEPAD became discredited, as there were NO true champions of durable development that would serve the peoples of Afrika.
What can leaders in Namibia do to prevent us from becoming another laughing stock in the world? The foundations have been laid, but like the AU experience illustrates, foundations on their own are not good enough. Buildings are seen by what is on the foundations. It is time for us to move forward and build.
As we face our challenges and contradictions, let us move forward and use the time we have to make certain that we leave this place, this country, this world in a better state than we found it in. Otherwise, we shall be remembered as those who came, ate, enriched themselves, grew fat and left the land in ruins.
Here is what it boils down to: democracy is a project of the ‘common man’. Thus, for a democracy to work the greatest number of people who live under it must have something to defend in that democracy, not just a few, who eat on behalf of others, as the story was with Afrikan Dream.
In other words, how many people live without fear in our nation, or at least are not mindful of who hears what they say, and why? To build upon and safeguard the Namibian Dream, there are things that we as a nation ought to do, and upon which our leadership must be appraised continuously and deliberately:
Free and compulsory education for all, at all levels up to college;
Government ought to be taken closer to the people. This includes doing away with the system of imposing regional governors outside, so that the President appoints people from within those who emerge as winners in the regional council elections. In that way the governors are accountable to the voters and not only to the President. Equally, the President is protected from accusations that he is parachuting bogus leaders on the regions;
Start a process of delinking the executive branch of government from the legislature, so that the two organs perform their functions separately from one another and the executive accounts to the national lawmakers, who in turn account to the voters;
The executive organ of state should be made smaller and more functional, rather than keep it as a reward system for comrades, and should correspond to the small size of the population that is crying out for better education, a responsive healthcare system and an up-to-standard and caring safety and security apparatus and a better food security planning and programmes;
Support the President’s progressive move towards a merit system in government, so that people are appointed on the basis of what they can do rather than how many rallies they attended;
The new administration ought to look into the feasibility and modalities of establishing sports academies in all the 13 plus one regions to start arresting the idleness of youth, who are not academically oriented so they can be mobilised to take up sports as careers that can sustain their lives and those of their families,
Coupled to the above, is the necessary introduction of a department of sports medicine at the Unam medical school to cater for the management and administration of sports in the country;
Attention should be given to the mushrooming culture of carguards, so much so that there are young African men who loiter even around churches and funeral sites to ostensibly offer vehicle protection, whereas many of them are the culprits of these irking crimes. They should be taken off the streets and placed in vocational training centres for training in basic life skills, so that they become meaningful contributors to the economy;
Work aggressively towards establishing a fully-fledged University of Agriculture and Food Security in Katima Mulilo;
Move aggressively towards establishing a University of Education responsible for training teachers and school administrators in the country. The first two years of these students should be devoted to English language skills with the assistance of trainers and lecturers from English first language countries, preferably the United States, where there is a huge reservoir of conscientious African-Americans, who are eager to make a contribution to the upliftment of the Afrikan peoples;
Beef up security apparatuses, both defense and constabulary to make life as safe as possible for citizens and visitors to the Namibian shores at all times, so that it is not only the elite that feels safe but all who dwell on Namibian soil;
The Ministry of Trade and Industry should regulate hospitality facilities throughout the country, such that fuel service stations on national roads are not allowed to extract money from users, as that ought to be part of their license agreements to provide toilet facilities, just as restaurants are required to provide toilets, instead of burdening ordinary road users with additional expenses;
Regulate the industry so that restaurant workers – including waiters and waitresses – enter into legal employment contracts with their employees that guarantee them a minimum wage, such that they do not depend on tips to make a living;
Turn down the volume on affirmative action, as it is applied, unevaluated gender equity measures, and political party affiliation and turn up the volume on skills and competency to deliver to the Namibian people in their zebra style, neither black nor white, but both, and;
Embark aggressively on land reform, which will begin to address partly the legitimate issues encapsulated in the Affirmative Repositioning crusade, which has more to do with space and housing than agricultural land, meaning that the government has to find ways to respond to the disparities in land acquisition by the political elite that is gobbling up the space by obtaining farmland and houses, which they would not have been able to get if they were not in the positions that they are in and at the same time show reluctance to others who have the same aspirations;
Regulate housing and property prices in Windhoek and across the country, such that normal people can afford a place to live and raise kids with a sense of self-worth and pride, and combine this with an aggressive crusade to improve customer service in our industries.