The Absence of the State in Namibia – Part 2 [analysis]

The closest example to illustrate state power and state planning for purposes of national development was the Union of South Africa in 1910 when South Africa as a colony unhinged itself from British control and turned inward to build the most formidable economy on the Afrikan continent. When South Africa under white rule became a Union in 1910, the first thing the leaders thought about was how to stimulate development in all the four Republics at the time, so that each of them was given a development responsibility.

Natal was given the business of running postal services and the harbours Orange Free State was given the judicial seat, the Appellate Division. Transvaal became the administrative centre and the Cape Province the legislature. That is why parliament is still in Cape Town, while the capital is in Pretoria!

This is how development was stimulated so much so that all these centres were connected with high class roads, railway lines, bus transport services and sizable airports named after the Afrikaner statesmen: Jan Smuts in Johannesburg (Transvaal) D.F. Malan Airport in Cape Town (Cape Province) J B M Hertzog Airport in Bloemfontein (Orange Free State) and Louis Both Airport in Durban (Natal).

In the process of spreading the economy throughout the country under the aegis of the new state, schools, universities and technikons were built for people to have employment, wherever they were and did not have to flock to the capital, save for those who were in the service of the Central Government in Pretoria. The farmers in the Orange Free State and Mpumalanga (then Eastern Transvaal) were heavily subsidized by the state, so much so that they continue to feed the entire Southern African region, including Namibia to this day.

Foreign Policy

There is no other country in Sub-Saharan Afrika with the moral clout and leadership potential after the Cold War to shape a comprehensive and tone-setting cutting edge foreign policy for a New Afrika than the Republic of Namibia. This reality is more startling after South Africa lost the plot and the slot to become what Nelson Mandela wished it to become – the triumph of the Human Spirit.

With Mandela at the helm of state business in South Africa, carrying a South African passport in the world was a badge of honour. At the moment, that passport is a source of shame as the world cringes at the goings-on in South Africa. Namibia is thus the only country in Sub-Saharan Afrika with the demographic and diversity mix worthy of attracting international attention as a microcosm and incubator of a new world civilization. Since independence, Namibia has acquired the legitimacy and standing to spearhead a foreign policy second to none on the continent and redefine Afrika’s role within and without.

Let us think through seriously what we can do to combat poverty in the short, medium and long terms, by developing ideas. First of all, it would be good to increase the size of population for purposes of growing the economy. At the moment, Namibia is not a great investment place for manufacturing because there are too few people to buy the products in the country.

It would not hurt a big country with a tiny population like ours to have a deliberate immigration policy with careful programmes by which we would allow people to come, settle and be active here as long as they added to the employment creation agenda of the state. The new immigrants would be incentivized by allocating to them land in the countrysides of the 13 plus 1 regions where they would stimulate economic growth where people are living already. Countries like Australia had done something similar to this. By adding to our population more citizens through a carefully targeted programme would make Namibia a microcosm of what other nations wish to become.

Property and House Prices

The one area where the state in Namibia failed is to regulate the property market. The Namibian Government is too shy in regulating prices of houses in the country generally and in Windhoek specifically. It cannot be correct that prices of houses in Windhoek compare only to Dubai in the oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It cannot be correct that houses in Windhoek cost more than in Johannesburg and Cape Town. It cannot be correct that developers and real estate entrepreneurs charge poor Namibians an arm, and a leg for houses in the manner that they do. Then what is the state there for if it cannot regulate prices in accord with the markets and best practices elsewhere?

The background to this unacceptable state of affairs is understandable but it must be corrected for the sake of peace and stability. The greed amongst house owners started with UNTAG in 1989 when the United Nations came to supervise the first democratic elections in the country. Understandably, prices of accommodation went up aomically and these foreign missions could afford it. Every one made a killing with rent and house sales. That situation was never corrected when the country became free and a state. The state failed to intervene and normalize the property market. The abnormal situation became the norm and greed overtook a passion for development.

Municipal controllers began to sell plots and encouraged the buyers to build upon these plots properties that had to be four times the value of the plots. Human greed climbed even further as more people bought plots and rented ruthlessly. Banks also joined in to make huge profits through property bonds and borrowings.

Education and Training

Education, to all intents and purposes is the deliberate intellectual and systematic moulding of the young to prepare them to enter the world wherein they can participate, and compete intellectually and professionally with the rest in the human family.

The Namibian state has yet to find its way philosophically and ideologically in so far as education and training are concerned. There is universal acceptance that our education system leaves much to be desired. This is mainly because we have not as a nation asked the fundamental questions that must precede the establishment of an education that is suitable for the New Namibia in the New World. Education is a function of the state, not a particular government. Education is about the whole character of the nation and what it wishes to become and do and define strategic partnerships and methodologies to go about it. To be angry about the past is not good enough a motivation to design an education system. It is more important to be passionate about the future to figure out how best to get there. This is so because we cannot change the past but we can influence the future.

By this time we ought to have developed education and capacity building, which would have at its centre the interests of the Namibian child and its future. We failed to mortgage an education and training system that can prepare a Namibian personality to function effectively and efficiently and indeed in competition with others in the country, the region, Afrika and the world. It is not enough for a Namibian child to understand the liberation struggle, which is the past.

Leadership

The axiom that countries stand or fall on leadership is true. Most of what we know about countries or nations is what their leaders did – good and bad. Nations that endure and sustain themselves are those with g leadership legacies of individuals who said and did things that generations after generations return to for counsel or deal with remorse. On the bad side: it will take years for Uganda to overcome the stigma of Idi Amin because he was so bad.

Germans are still managing the international blemish that Adolf Hitler inflicted on their historical character. There is so much good and so many good people in Zimbabwe, but all is drowned in the hatred people in the world harbour towards Robert Mugabe. On the positive side: India always goes back to Mahatma Gandhi who preached unity between Hindus and Muslims such that he died while in search of that unity.

America returns to Abraham Lincoln who took on Congress on the question of the abolition of slavery by going against his own party for equality of all citizens. Germany finds comfort in Konrad Adenauer as first Chancellor after the Second World War, the man who helped Germany to keep on looking upward. Tanzania remembers Julius Nyerere’s tireless effort to destroy tribalism and to build one nation with one language Kiswahili. Singapore still celebrates Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who is kept in the public service, despite his age, as Minister of Mentoring.

Turkey venerates Mustafa Kemal Atatuumlrk after whom the country was named for his leadership in creating a new united secular country with a new civilization that is rapidly becoming a world player. South Africa’s two most important statesmen, F.W. De Klerk and Nelson Mandela – De Klerk for going against the grain of the old national party hubris and abolishing apartheid with one speech in Parliament, and Nelson Mandela who will stay the reference point for a very long time to come for his dictum that he wanted to lead a society wherein all had equal opportunity, an ideal which made him rise above party politics and became a Father Figure for all and how he gave the world a new vocabulary on how to be a leader.

We have come a long way. We have what it takes to build a better Motherland. Namibians of all race and language groups mean well.

Namibians are grateful for the good leadership that took us out of bondage and brought us where we are today. Leaders from all political parties did their little bits to bring us thus far. Namibia is looking to the future now as a state, and needs a different quality of leadership – not of parties or tribes, but the state of Namibia to which we owe all our loyalty.

They want to belong to the future. A better future. All we lack and need is a direction to get there. All we need is a better map, a more reliable compass, and yes, we yearn for leaders as statesmen and stateswomen who see beyond political party interests. We have party leaders, and now hanker and pray to get leaders with transformational leadership skills to take us forward together, not because they love their parties less, but because they love Namibia more. We are desperate for leaders or a leader to beckon us all to move in one direction, in tandem with Vision 2030, towards a better Namibia that will be better than the Namibia, the Afrika, and the world that we found.

Source : New Era