• September 23rd, 2018
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Disrespect for rules and institutions hurting Namibia (Part 2)

Columns, Diescho's Dictum
Columns, Diescho's Dictum

Afrika generally and Namibia specifically have done well in turning a colonial situation into a country with great potential to become a nation. In our case, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) as the liberation movement became what it was because it was a big institution with strong rules and regulations that guided all those who belonged to it, both the leaders and the followers. It is its rules and the high ideals of a free and independent Namibia in which all will be equal and race, tribe, ethnicity, language and other creeds would be second and even lower to the Big Promise of One Namibia One Nation. That Promise has gone up in smoke because we did not stick to its precepts. Come independence we all became hunters and gatherers of fame and glory at the expense of the ideals of the struggle. It was the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe who named one of the diseases we suffer from after we attain freedom when he wondered whether we can survive the peace in the same manner we managed to survive the war. By that he meant that it was easier for us to stand together and even love one another more when we were at war with the enemy, but after that, and when we are no longer united against an outside enemy, we turn against one another as we turn to tribe, language, race and what constitutes ‘our likeness’ as sources of safety and security. In the absence or transparent and predictable and equitable rules to regulate our behaviour, we worship individuals who serve our interests or in exchange for some protection. The worshipped individuals begin to believe their own propaganda and internalise a falsehood that they are mini-gods whose presence must be felt in people’s public and private lives. Compounded by the diseases of greed and untampered consumption, the nation suffers. The second predicament Namibia finds herself in is the absence of a national leader who is above party politics and who can, as did nelson Mandela of South Africa, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, to preach the gospel of nationalism after independence and not put the interests of one political party above the nation. There is no one in post-independence Namibia. This is why membership of the governing party SWAPO today has nothing to do with the high principles that this organisation stood and fought for. Today, wearing a SWAPO scarf, better yet, to wear everything from hat to shoes (perhaps underwear included) is not what it was before – that one was identifying not only with the ideal of national independence, but a declaration of a personal readiness to do whatever it would take to be part of the noble fight to end oppression and domination of one group of the same family by another. When SWAPO was SWAPO it was not sexy to walk around with one piece of cloth with the movement’s colours on it. It was sign of sacrifice, not a licence to positions be it in government or business. It was an application to serve the people by any means necessary. Now to wear SWAPO colours is a show off of political position or financial influence, better yet a public application to be considered for positions even if the bearers of the colours is not fit to be given the position. In the course of 2017, it is a gesture that one if fit for the Elective Congress. Serving the people and the nation is nowhere in the consideration of these enthusiastic uniform bearers. It is tempting to say: Beware of those who walk around in SWAPO colours because they are the enemies of the nation! In the absence of accepted and transparent rules, nations need one big champion of the values that are good for all, and who could remind all that we are inherently good people who could do better relation to others, including those who wronged us. This is Julius Nyerere did when he worked tirelessly to bring over one hundred tribes into one nation with one language, Kiswahili, which he personally taught in schools while he was Head of State. This is what Nelson Mandela came to represent in a country that was dangerously torn apart and needed a new beginning. This is what Barack Obama did to remind America that the country of his birth was founded on the ideal of equality of all. No wonder the world came to respect these men as unusual leaders in a world where most leaders are more concerned about themselves at the expense of the people they purport to lead. It is not only what these leaders said that made them great, but what they did and people saw them doing. They did not use their influence and/or power to hurt their opponents and brag about it, but that even their worst ‘enemies’ saw the good in them in manners they never expected. That is transformational leadership as opposed to leadership pageantry that our leaders are currently engaged in. What this means is that leaders like Mandela set the scene upon which to build a country that is capable of self-correction and objective self-introspection. Mandela understood the importance of rules and the sanctity of constitutions. For instance, when he fired his ex-wife from a ministerial position and the court proved to him to have been wrong, he reinstated her and apologised to the nation. While he was State President, the right wing South African Rugby baron Louis Luyt dragged Mandela to court for violating the constitution, and Mandela went to court to account for his actions and did not hide behind presidential immunity. It is this background that offers South Africa the wherewithal to be a country where people can agree to disagree more than we can here in Namibia. Furthermore, one of the foundations of the South African democratic culture that will sustain that country beyond the shenanigans of the current ANC and Zuma Administration is the Freedom Charter that was crafted by representatives of all sections of South Africa. When the country falls apart, as it is doing now, the nation has a point of reference to go back to and regroup as one nation. Respecting ground rules (Grundnormen) forms the basic foundation of law and order and the rule of law. A leadership without an established ethic of its own leadership decorum of dos and don’ts is a failing leadership that is preparing the future generations for anarchy and the worst forms of greed and avarice. How will future generations emulate leaders who dishonoured their own rules and values? For instance, the world today has thousands of church denominations, and they disagree in many fundamental ways BUT they all respect the Ten Commandments as the basic law. Even the Roman Catholic Pope in Rome who has reason to believe that Christ gave the heavenly key to Peter, who is considered the first pope, cannot disregard the Ten Commandments when it pleases him. If he does, that would lead to the end of his church, and the Christian community world-wide would peel away from him as a villain. He is there because of the rules. Ibn other words, leaders must serve under rules, not alter rules to be served. The 27-year-old Namibia is in danger because we have not been able to build strong institutions and protocols that are beyond serving leaders and powerful individuals. The year 2017 will be remembered as a fateful year during which the political leadership that had acquitted itself exceptionally well hitherto has become the villains. The top SWAPO leadership has become insensitive not only to what is best for the country, but totally oblivious, to say the least, of the fundamental rules that made Namibia be the country that it is known to be, namely as the little country in the sad Afrika that is still stable and peaceful. This peace and stability is now under threat not because the citizens or the opposition is able to unseat the liberation movement now governing party, but because the leadership has become arrogant and self-serving in its total inability to reinvent itself and adapt to the changes and circumstances of today. Worse, the leadership of the governing party is now on a course that has no regard for its own rules and the constitutional principles of the party and the Republic. The examples of lawlessness and selfishness on the part of the top leadership of the governing party are there for all to see. For the first time since independence there is growing and loud consternation and angst across the land because the things they see happening at the behest of the leadership are antithetical to the long established codes of SWAPO. People have reason to believe that the upcoming elective congress of SWAPO has already been disfigured by the politics of succession. Admittedly, there must be hard knocks and personal discomforts in any political contestation process. But to go so low as to bribe, cajole, arm twist, intimidate, manipulate people to endorse a single candidate before the party has announced the names of the candidate or candidates, is contrary to the rules of democratic elections. People have reason to complain that the process will no longer be free and fair as the odds are stacked against whoever will be nominated since the choruses of unprocedural endorsements by frightened or opportunistic councillors have definitely disadvantaged the process – even before the race or the campaign began. If we do not defend the rules today, nothing will defend us and our children tomorrow. Finally, unlike in South Africa where leaders have individual self-confidence to speak out in the interest of the nation, out party politics is by and large choir politics. There are no progressive voices in the party asking: How does one endorse a candidate before one knows that there is candidate according to the rules of the organisation in the first place? This shows a few most unfortunate aspects of our national politics: that the process is and will not be fair as it has been bent in favour of one person who happens to have state power at his disposal; that there is lack of discipline on the part of the governing party in that it is unable to defend its foundations and call to order those who are serving themselves at the expense of the party and the nation that needs this party now more than ever before; that there are disturbing levels of small thinking in the rank and file of the ruling party who are willing to stomach that which they know is not right but keep their mouths shut because silence may earn them an ambassadorial posting and/or a tender. This is downright corruption because these practices are corrupting the good name of SWAPO that has been the glue of our national identity as One Namibia One Nation. By the looks of things, this is likely to get worse until and unless the rules of the game of politics both within the governing party and the national body politic, are clear, blind and fair! Those who destroy rules and institutions are enemies of the future. After all, we must remember that individuals, however powerful and mighty, come and go, but rules and institutions stand! A strength of a house is in its foundations. What we build today is the foundation of tomorrow. When we destroy our own foundations, we build a jungle with its sense of justice, namely the survival of the fittest, waar die skelms regeer!
2017-09-29 10:43:57 11 months ago
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