The Political Tricycle and the Unknown [analysis]

IF nothing else, our current foray into massive changes to our polling laws, the introduction of damnable voting machines that remove my democratic right to spoil my voting paper as I don’t wish to vote for any of them, and now the Cat 980 ploughing through dozens of constitutional amendments, some of incredible significance, are making life exciting!

And I am the last one to say that change to our electoral system, and especially the representation side of our constitutional involvement as individual Namibians and our paliamentary model that is failing on almost all accounts to represent us as citizens, is not needed.

I even have sympathy for the political drivers of this process, Rt Hon HG, Sacky and our Attorney General, for putting on a great show of going to the people as a pretext trying to show an information session as participation and input. We all know that such major changes have to be assimilated through political mental (or is it bodily!) fluids passing between both willing and unwilling participants through contacts over several years, culminating in new ideas and thinking within a like-minded group.

Matters of such importance, I suggest, are most unlikely to emerge from information and discussion systems which ultimately get bogged down in the narrow agenda of multiple groups with often totally conflicting views but equally based on the selfish motives of many such groups. Of course, any group however right it may be, will make no progress against those in power if it shows the slightest tendency to conflict with their personnal powers and source of riches! Thus those in power will rarely depart from the status quo without assuring benefits for themselves.

And as someone has recently published in The Namibian we have several thousand occupants of “higher” positions, from politicians, aisers, CEOs and other “bosses” being paid over a million dollars each per year plus luxury cars, fat expense accounts and similar plus in many cases a string of relatives and friends riding the “fat cow of government” while, except in a few self evident cases, not making any form of contribution to their employers, us the public.

This of course is, what seems almost an inevitable sequence of events whereby development has to pass through a similar sequence of realities as nations or organisations grow. I always look at Lee Kwan U of Singapore, whose strict regime covering all matters from spitting in lifts to working hours and safety but in the early days allowed “interesting” financial actions and produced initially a society of increasing wealth tarnished by huge inequality.

His later policies corrected this by using legal (and maybe sometimes not so legal?) methods which operated parallel with a progressive shift from physical labour to the sale of brain power as educational systems opened up such markets. In many ways, Lee’s methods were a continuation of the industrial revolution path of the 1800’s England and were followed similarly by South Korea and now, since Mao’s end of the Cultural Revolution, China, which in 40 years, has started to enter the “slow-down” phase where labour is less needed and is replaced by external sourcing or automation.

But then it is a route where labour is less needed and replaced by capital that is the beginning of a slippery social road where society is not needed except as a captive consumer driven by bank loans. England avoided much of the economic pain through having growing colonies to absorb people profitably. Singapore has shown itself to be small and flexible enough to respond quickly and competitively to new oportunities (see 3D printing) South Korea is in the middle of various changes which may or may not work, but most importantly, China is now entering that arena where growth slows and population comes under various social and economic pressures, especially when the demographics are important, like a rapidly increasing elderly population!

So back to Namibia who, like most of Africa, remains at the starting gate often constrained by political and economic systems that are hangovers from their colonial pasts. This is why the current political tricycle hopefully aimed at transforming us beyond being a mere survivor into being a driving force to the growth of our still essentially hibernating continent through pushing through a new way, for Africa, of doing things our way and, in our case, progressing from selling cows, beer and grapes, to a continental focal point for original change satisfying new and rewarding challenges.

No, we must not waste our time on more conferences. No, we must not write more papers. No, we must not bring in more “external hangers on”. We must get down to the business of making mistakes as we initially stumble forward into the unknown.

It is having the courage and drive to conquer the unknown that will drive us to success, even if we have bulldozed our way through various situations because of mistakes and ignorance!

This is how progress is learnt and enshrined in a national character. The alternative to continue to drag our feet through a continuing mire of unoriginality, excuses and incompetence will leave us where we are forever. Give our political tricycle riders a chance and from this more change will emerge once many of the current hangers-on have been replaced by a younger generation seeking greed and privilege!

Moral honesty will eventually emerge – I hope. Once the basis for the Independence dream of Omulugwombashe?

Source : The Namibian

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