• September 20th, 2019

Namibia faces leadership succession challenges


There is reason to agree that virtually all political and social formations in our country have not found a winning formula for leadership succession or better still, for leadership development. 

The challenge of leadership development pervades all political and social formations and the only reason Swapo Party and its government are under the gun and expected to provide a model for leadership succession is because they are the ruling party, not because they have the sole obligation and qualify to have monopoly over virtue.

There seems to be no formula to leadership succession and each institution, be it a political formation, sports body or church institution, experiences conflictive relations when it is time to decide on new leaders. 

Normally, it is the way the leadership handles the business of leadership succession that determines how the process will evolve and how it is likely to conclude.

Currently our Namibian model for leadership succession does not lend itself to open testimony of aspirations to leadership by those interested, safe for when they are vetted by the principals of the institutions in question. Those who dare make public statements to that effect land on the mud lane and  victimization by institutional trends becomes the order of the day, in the end they become sidelined without due regard to their qualities and to historical roles they may have played and can continue to play in the process of nation building. 

This practice has created an organic association between the extent to which talent is sacrificed and the extent to which the public get discouraged and intimidated against support for the victims, notwithstanding the public’s own assessment of the qualities of the potential contestants in question. 

This practice has characterized many political formations in Namibia and in parts of Southern Africa and has by and large led to splits in organizations and marked the birth of new political forces. Witness for instance the splits in Swanu over the years, the birth and rebirth of Nudo, the birth of Swapo D, splits of Canu and Swapo, CoD, the birth of the Oruuano Church and the split in the Lutheran church, not to mention the arrival of the over 20 000 spiritual churches on the Namibian landscape. The latest experience was the birth of Rally for Democracy and Progress.

Equally important is the need to observe trends in other nation states and perhaps the South African experience is instructive with regard to the politics of succession.  

With the advent of the new constitution, the African National Congress appeared to have settled on two Vice Presidents in the persons of Cyril Ramaphosa and Thabo Mbeki. The resolve to build a government of national unity made it necessary for one of the two Vice Presidents to make room for F.W. de Klerk and it was time for Ramaphosa to go.

South Africa settled on a new order and already then it became clear that Nelson Mandela was preparing to exit after his first term, as could be seen from his structuring of the business of state. This went smooth and the stage was set for Thabo Mbeki to take over, deputised by Jacob Zuma. 

Along the way Zuma had to fall away and contrary to contemporary expectations, the African National Congress preferred the very Zuma to succeed Thabo Mbeki as President of the party and subsequent head of state. The latter development has created a departure from the presumed norm: when the head of state and leader of the party ditches a person, then the whole party is implicitly mobilized against the victim, no matter what they think of the person’s resourcefulness. In the end it was time for Jacob Zuma to go notwithstanding the fact that he for the longest time, was determined to hold onto power. 

Namibia seems to be trapped in the same web. Look at political succession among the political parties and look at the problems confounding sports, soccer in particular. Already there are subtle suggestions and counter suggestions of meddling from some government officials in the configurations of sports participation, to the extent that some sport codes are marginalized because some principals want their codes to enjoy the lime light uncontested. 

In our present political and social order, comrades are not considered on the basis of their skillfulness and their potential capacity to add value to the thrust for national development. It is a sad day for Namibia, for Africa and perhaps for the world as even the United States system of governance seems contested with some of those pushed to the periphery calling for the review of America’s democratic process.

Namibia is yet to stumble on a model that is predicated on leadership development for democratic succession and this calls for pointed and consistent thinking on how best to make it happen. 
 


Staff Reporter
2018-11-21 09:26:05 9 months ago

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