Namibia has entered the arena of the banality of Afrikan politics wherein the political elite rules for itself. Those in power exhibit disdain for the people and the interests of the country. And they get away with it because there are no strong institutions to protect the values upon which the Republic was founded.
It is the whim of the rulers, the self-interests of the appointed officials that matter, and everyone is afraid of everyone. Life, ala, Thomas Hobbes, is nasty, brutish and mean, and the skelms thrive, by any means necessary. The future will not look kindly upon us. What we used to read about as the curse of Afrika, namely the indifference of the leaders, is now upon us.
It must be said that it is most unfortunate that President Hage Geingob’s good intentions to alleviate poverty and combat corruption are falling in the sand because institutionally he is not empowered to take drastic action when the evidence is as clear as the morning sun that there are people around him that he needs to get rid of if his messages are to be taken seriously, not only by the thousands of us who still have faith him, but also the international community that has been giving Namibia the benefit of the doubt that this small country can do better than the rest of sub-Saharan Afrika that tops the index of corruption and greed by its rulers, families and friends.
In an ideal democracy, President Geingob would be supported by the masses to take action against the identified corrupt officials. If the President does not act now when he has clear evidence of state looting by officials he has appointed, he will squander the trust people have in him as a serious fighter of poverty and corruption. The President’s legacy will be severely eroded and the country’s reputation will suffer as a result of the deepening official graft.
Here are more areas where, as they say, the sins of the fathers will be visited upon their coming generations:
LACK OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PLAN: No nation has been able to forge a strong future without investing in the youth, the leaders and the followers of tomorrow. We tend to concentrate our efforts and memories on the past rather than look to the future. As the youth try to assert themselves, by posing disruptive questions on land, corruption and elitism in our body politic, it is dismissed as ill-disciplined and disrespectful of the elders. In this atmosphere, the necessary conversation is muted and the dialogue of the deaf takes over. The continuous narratives, important though they are, have become more alienating and dismembering to young people who have their own struggles to wage, even though they have not yet found ‘their cause’.
ABSENCE OF NATIONAL INTERESTS: One of the most immediate results of a lack of vision in any country is the absence of a common collective understanding and internalisation of a country’s national interest. Namibia does not have a coherent set of national interests that ought to be self-evident and beckon us back together when we disagree, and even go astray. It is most disappointing that our leaders who were exposed to the greater issues in the world have not come up with a discernment of what Namibia’s national interests are and around which we can always coalesce and which cannot be compromised even at times of legitimate disagreements. In fact, political disagreements should be about emphasis and methodologies, not what makes us cohere as a nation. If an outsider visited any political party rally today, s/he will be left with a dangerous perception that Namibia is still in a liberation struggle or does not have national symbols because all the parties are worshippers of their party symbols and colours, so much so that even people who have taken the sacred oath to defend the Namibian Constitution and protect all Namibian inhabitants appear to be more loyal to their parties instead of the nation.
INCOHERENT DEVELOPMENT POLICIES:
In the context that we have been independent and self-governing for 27 years, one would have expected the political role players to have matured such that we would be able to tell the differences between the various national development programs (NDPs) by way of their articulated proposals and clear contextual agendas for taking the country forward. Our NDPs are cut and paste exercises with no ideological centering of what it is that we as a nation want to achieve and become. Our political parties today are different only by way of how they wish be in power, and there is very little difference between what they offer as can expound and mortgage a better future. In the absence of this self-renewal process, the governing party renders itself vulnerable to be adjudged only by in that it is no match to all the opposition parties combined that are not masculine enough to pose a countervailing force to the former liberation movement with its huge brand.
HALF-BAKED ECONOMIC PROGRAMMES: Namibia’s economic interventions lack an ideological orientation that would place it strategically as a stable country with a small sized population sandwiched between two strong economies, Angola in the north and South Africa in the south, both of which are unstable. There is fussy talk about a mixed economy and no party is clear in explaining it in a manner that galvanizes the agricultural community, manufacturing, and small enterprises to take their fair share of responsibility to propel the economy forward along the logic of self-interests. It is not enough to sing the old refrain that the previously disadvantaged are not in charge of the economy. This logic is tired. After all, masses are never in charge of any country’s economy. The masses are always carried by the few that take bold decisions. It is for political parties to figure out and develop programmes on how to change the reality that tax collected from a small ‘rich’ minority and employed citizens carry the burden for the masses that depend on grants from the state. (To be continued)