Namibia: Healing a sick nation (Part I)

Where are we? Where are we going and who with? These are some of the questions the nation is asking itself.

Admittedly those in power are extremely allergic to the truth, yet it must be told and spoken for the sake of moving towards solutions. There is no denying that people's lives are being affected negatively. Those in official positions across the board are scared stiff of their appointing masters across the board, as if the country belongs to those who appointed them and not the people.

Government Offices, Ministries and Agencies (OMAs) and regional authorities are ordered to cut to the bone. Service delivery is suffering. Efficiency is being affected. In sum national development is short changed. The truth is that the government is cash strapped, in other words broke! By the way it is not a sin to be broke. Even the richest economies in the world, such as the United States of America, often runs into serious money problems.

During the last decades only the American government had to shut down because there was no money to run government operations, yet the President was not singled out and scandalized for a system failure. Instead the leadership went back to the drawing board, regrouped and fixed the problem collectively.

In the course of 2015 and now in 2017 the consensus across the length and breadth of Namibia is that the country is undergoing serious challenges. Corruption, nepotism, political intolerance, unbridled greed to get rich by using government positions, fear, incompetence and sloganeering are on the increase.

Who is to blame? Government, its apparatchiks or securocrats? When people are hurting and uncertainty rules, common sense becomes very uncommon. Bad governance and resource mismanagement exacerbated by financial factors beyond national control, coupled with a deficit of bold leadership to fix what can be fixed, it becomes increasingly difficult to have constructive conversations. Hence we all become preoccupied with blaming, scapegoating, grandstanding, passing the buck and simply denying that we are in trouble.

In this challenging climate where uncertainty, vulnerability and hardship rule, duty is ours as rational and patriotic citizens (not as political party members) to be honest and do our best to develop solutions. Silence is not an option.

On the days of our independence, President Nujoma invited us all to become masters of our country by looking to the future with confidence and hope. The today we enjoy was their future which they took risks for. Our children's future cannot be enveloped in our fearful silence, but in our patriotic participation in the mortgaging of this land and its people. Our leaders have a duty to resist the temptation of listening to rumors from those who seek wealth and job security at the expense of fellow Namibians.

It is time to tackle our problems with sober minds and nationalistic eyes. In science, a medical doctor cannot sure an illness without proper diagnosis. Otherwise we sit with a prototype Afrikan scenario where the witchdoctor does no diagnosis yet prescribes the same cure for all manners of illness, including bad dreams, unsuccessful business and failing relationships. From what people are saying across the land, our disease is as follows:

When we gained our political independence, we never really had or developed a game plan with which to transform an economy that was based on the exploitation of the masses and in service of other people's interests instead of Namibian interests. Our independence came at the time when the whole international economy was reconfiguring from a bi-polar to a uni-polar system. In the older world economy earlier Afrikan states had some room to maneuver and explore options to serve their own people, even if they failed. Our Constituent Assembly was negotiating our constitution at exactly the time the Berlin Wall came tumbling down (November 1989), when our leaders had to change gears very fast and remain in charge. . Hence (a) We adopted the constitutional principles as prescribed by the western powers whose benevolence made possible the relatively peaceful transition; (b) In the understandable rush to get our independence, we cut and pasted here and there to get a reasonable constitution but without a real template to (re)construct a nation that never existed before; (c) With the advice from white legal experts we speedily adopted a constitution which is proving to be cumbersome such we now admit that that hungry people cannot eat a good constitution and homeless cannot sleep under the pages of the constitution; (d) In the self-triumphalism we made certain assumptions that are proving to be hazardous, including the fact that we did not build on the strengths of our diversities, yet imported into our governance systems old paradigms from the war times. (e) Our national resource management is saddled with gross incompetence yet decision makers are hamstrung by considerations of political loyalty and pay-back, and constant crisis management with little regard to merit or the contributions individuals can make. Hence we sit with cabinet ministers for 20 to 27 years, not because they are the best, but because they happened to be there when 'things' were happening. (f) Our political leadership comportment is at variance with the constitutional precepts of the Republic and what we promise in our rhetoric. (g) We are preoccupied with honors, most of which are fake but we insist on, in order to remain relevant in the world of -Untruths', illogic, intolerance, militant mediocrity, make-belief politics and manufacturing of the consent of the vulnerable masses. (i) In the word of two very brightest Afrikan leaders, Thabo Mbeki and Benjamin Mkapa, during a recent African Union dialogue, we never do a critical self-assessment of ourselves to find answers to our problem, and which in turn illuminate our road to a better future, our leaders remain arrogant and self-serving at all times; (j) We continue to suffer an inferiority complex which forces us to want to be served rather than serve, and stay in power for ever-just to eat. In the end our youth is short-changed, peace and stability suffers and the future is compromised. The rest is conjecture!

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia