• May 29th, 2020

Is it jobs for comrades or a mere bloated Cabinet again?

The Namibians woke up on 9 February 1990 with delight, as that day heralded the dawn and introduction of one of the best constitutions in the world. The chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, which constructed and drafted the Constitution, is the current president of the Republic. One can say we are honoured to have the former chairperson of the Constituent Assembly in the State House today because he knows all the corners and hooks of the Constitution.

 Paramount to the Constitution was Article 10 (1) and (2), which promulgated the equality and non-discrimination of all Namibians before the law, irrespective of their colour, sex, creed, origin, race, social or economic status. But few years into the footsteps of the Constitution, the then minister of home affairs, Hon. Jerry Ekandjo lost track of the commandments of the sacred document by deploying only Oshiwambo speaking people in all regions in the name of nationalism, which was naked ethnicity.  

Then came a deafening and persistent call: “Jobs for comrades” in government circles, parastatals, private companies and every employing sector. No employment agency was spared to resist the call culminating in all but few jobs reserved for comrades. In reality, it meant for people to get jobs, they were supposed to go into the bush and start guerrilla warfare like what Swapo did, take over the reins of government and start dividing jobs amongst themselves. This would be a vicious circle, where each group would be required to fight to get jobs for its people. Nevertheless, God forbid, because the policy of national reconciliation outlaws that.

Thirty years of independence, we still have “struggle kids” who refuse to become adults, despite the fact that they have kids and grandchildren of their own. Government has equally manifested its discrimination against the kids whose parents did not go into exile and liberate Namibia from colonial rule. Some of these kids’ parents were caught in a cross fire; others had their mahangu fields razed to the ground by the cassipirs – and in some cases, the courtyards were run over by the machine guns army trucks. Some of these kids, like those who came back from exile, could have lost their parents. This means both groups of children could be in the same shoes of vulnerability. It has been avaaruki all over the show, employing even those having blood of innocent Namibians on their hands killed in the Lubango dungeons. The foreign service has seen more discrimination than any other sector, where more than 90% posted abroad were former comrades in arms.

Since independence, our cabinets have been the worst form of discrimination, wherein many instances, only seven members of the executive body out of thirty would come from other regions, while the rest will be from the northern regions and avaaruki. The cabinet has been and continues to be bloated despite the relatively small population with dwindling resources and corruption at an unprecedented scale. The current so-termed reduced cabinet is not small as was expected.  Ministers have been serving in the cabinet since 1990 and do not show any signs of stepping down on the pretext that they are still young. The irony is that most of the Namibian cabinet ministers are octogenarians. This state of affairs is fertile ground for politicians to become corrupt as John Edward Acton expressed that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The primary originator of this quotation, William Pitt, the Elder and former Prime Minister of England from 1766-1778, said in the parliament that unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.  We have just witnessed that in the current Fishrot scandal. Mo Ibrahim, the Founder of his organisation, which encourages presidents to step down willing and paid by him around US$59 million, has added his concern of African leaders who still serve when they are around 90 years old.  

Comparatively speaking, Botswana with almost the same population as Namibia has 15 ministers, including the president and deputy ministers. If you consider that Botswana is doing very well in terms of economic development and less corruption, you will understand that our government has the little political will to uplift the living standards of the people. South Africa with a population of 55 million has 28 ministers, compare our 2.8 million population with a cabinet of 19 ministers only. If you include the deputy ministers, one cannot seriously talk of a reduced cabinet. 

Then came the issue of accommodating the gender spectrum leading to the bloating of the National Assembly. Gender equality could have been done very well even in the former law house without increasing the number of seats. Whereas the gender issue should be taken seriously, in our case, it is just an issue of formality and smokescreen. The US, the so-called Mother of Democracy, never had a woman president in its 244 years of existence. Of course, Namibia is not the US and, therefore, can gear up for gender equality on its terms.

The motto of jobs for comrades, liberation kids and indeed a bloated cabinet happens to be a way of paying back the role played by comrades during the liberation war. When will the paying back come to an end so that ordinary Namibians are equally considered for employment in the land of their birth? Ideally and frankly speaking, both groups: the avaaruki and those who remained behind, played a key role in liberating the country. Yes, some sold out in both cases, but the bottom line is that every Namibian should be treated as per Article 10.

Prof. Makala Lilemba is a Namibian employed by
the University of Barotseland, Mongu, Zambia

Staff Reporter
2020-03-30 09:23:42 | 1 months ago

Be the first to post a comment...

You might also like...