Last year’s dismal performance by grades 11 and 12 candidates should have sent parents to the streets in protest, demanding better from the government in the face of a teetering public education sector.
But it is not the case.
How mass protests have not taken place, despite over 80% of the pupils’ grades failing to meet tertiary education, entry requirements only means one thing to Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi: Namibians have given up.
This, Swartbooi said, is the clearest sign that things have proverbially fallen apart, and that Namibia is fast becoming a failed state.
The analysis is deduced from the LPM chief change campaigner while addressing party leaders at a lodge outside Windhoek last week.
The two-day retreat mapped LPM’s political programme for 2023-2024.
At the heart of Swartbooi’s misgivings is how affairs are run in the public education sector and how no one seems bothered.
“[It is a sign] that people have given up. People are tired. If [over] 90 000 people, who constitute at least 10 seats in parliament for a political party, have given up, to whom have they outsourced the responsibility to care? To whom have they outsourced the responsibility to be disturbed or be angry?” Swartbooi asked.
Some local universities have since lowered the bar to rescue those who failed to meet normal requirements.
If any, the state-funded education system inspires little confidence, he ventilated.
“Can we today say public education has collapsed? Or are we in a crisis? If we are in a crisis, it’s an opportunity to fix it. But if it has collapsed, what do we do?” he asked.
The lawyer-turned-politician pondered if education should be outsourced to private entities or be given directly to communities.
Another proposition was that those leading [minister, deputy minister, directors and inspectors] be shown the door for the colossal failure.
“Should we hand over education directly to society through a community-based system? It [may] sound strange but why have we given conservation to communities… should there be a ministry of education or should it be completely outsourced?” he asked, saying such an approach could vest accountability directly in the hands of local communities.
The lawmaker then went on to lament the state of governance at regional and local authority level, where there are many swimming pools of debt they can never repay, he said.
In most cases, the politician said, service rendered by local authorities is unaffordable to the communities, whose interest councils claim to have at heart.
“Is it an affordable water and electricity service such that it helps communities to enhance livelihoods at local level, which is where the population resides?” the 45-year-old pondered.
When push comes to shove, he continued, service provision at the local level leaves much to be desired.
“Our argument is that indeed the state’s capacity to deliver effective and affordable livelihood transformative services is not present, and that the State has actually collapsed at the local level in Namibia,” he advanced.
To backbone this, he postulated: “Rehoboth [Town Council] sits with N$157 million debt. You look at that debt and say, what wealth generated from Rehoboth can repay that level of debt?”
The LPM firebrand further pointed to a total collapse in the governance of local authorities.
“Has local authority governance, perhaps because of being ‘local’ become obscure, such that presidents and prime ministers are not fundamentally bothered by their collapse [to the extent] where their indebtedness exceeds three to four times the ability of those communities to repay the debt?” he asked.
Since stepping onto the political theatre, LPM has been unequivocal about dealing with unscrupulous members.
The most recent casualty of the party’s axing machinery is Keetmanshoop Rural constituency councillor Gerrit Witbooi, who was suspended from all //Karas Regional Council activities on 8 December 2022.
His suspension runs for three months.
“Your conduct toward LPM is toxic and the least, dangerous to the values and team spirit of LPM. The party experiences a fundamental trust deficit from you toward the party and its agenda. This is unacceptable,” Swartbooi told Witbooi in a notice seen by New Era.
Last week, Witbooi said he had not been served with the suspension letter and would comment only once he has been briefed.