End the politics of polarisation

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Our country faces a myriad of challenges which, with political will and common cause, can be successfully tackled.

But galvanising political will in a nation with polarising politics like ours can be a daunting task. Whose political will would one impose when politicians in our country are each pulling in their own direction?

The plight of the common man has been elbowed to the periphery, as the direction of discourse tilts to personalities rather than issues.

What characterises Namibian politics today is no longer a conversation about solutions, but that of belittling those at the opposite end of the political spectrum. It’s the politics of blame and bashing and outmanoeuvring of opponents – real or imagined.

Freedom of speech has been diluted by the obsession for Facebook ‘likes’, and being robust has been replaced by rudeness. Those that are polite are mistaken for being weak and have often found themselves at the bottom of the political food chain.

In fact, being humble, honest and adherent to the statutes of both political parties and the country is often suicidal. Our politics seems to celebrate and reward thuggery and hooliganism.

It is true that historically, politics has never been a clean trade. But while it has evolved over decades to inject an element of civilisation, Namibian politics seem to regress with time. No debate takes place in Namibia’s political space without bile being spewed in the direction of opponents.

Politicians, like unguided missiles during their war of words, often forget that their primary duty is to provide space in which the common man can be assisted to emerge out of his quagmire.

Where, for example, is the mention of the SME Bank employees in the current political conversation? Who in our politics has taken it upon themselves to spearhead the struggle of these and other workers?

Namibian politicians on both sides of the divide are interested in election results ahead of party congresses, or other platforms at which their bread stands to be buttered. The common man is forgotten in all this.

Namibia needs politics of accommodation, where the greater interest of all citizens is the dominant theme. Let’s debate each other on whether free primary education is working, and should therefore be extended to the higher echelons of our education system, or what should be radically done to end worker exploitation across industries.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes the happy life intended for man by nature as one lived in accordance with virtue, and, in his Politics, he describes the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry.

Let’s enrich government’s approach to combating poverty and stimulating economic growth. Let’s discuss poaching and climate change and how politics can be a catalyst in bringing about much-needed change.

Even new political groupings and social movements that seem to emerge out of general frustration have resorted to personal attacks and antagonism instead of clarifying the issues at stake. Such is the tragedy of our politics.

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