Commentators of the recently concluded local government elections (LGE2021) in South Africa in which the ANC performed pathetically below 50% have attributed the humiliating performance to the wheelbarrowing of loyal cadres and buddies in positions of power.
Of major concern was the degree of corruption and poor service delivery by those in lofty perch.
As a result, the electorate became disillusioned and opted to remain at home or go for braais, leading to low voter turn up, which played in favour of the opposition parties whose members went to the polls.
Realising its past mistake, the ANC has decided to develop new criteria for identifying leaders (especially mayoral candidates) in municipalities and do away with the free for all selection method in the face of dire social and economic problems that require competent public representatives. But the question remains, will degreed people be a solution to poor service delivery and corruption?
Although I concur with the degree proponent`s claim that a degree will teach someone transferable skills such as the ability to research, analyse, manage time as well as assist to soak up information and learn quickly once recruited, the invaluable experience gained on the job is also critical, as it allows one to take part in real-world situations that form the foundations of most industries.
A degree is just a piece of paper and not trust, honesty and a will to serve the nation, as reports show there are those with high qualifications with serious allegations of corruption and poor service delivery.
A person with a low moral compass will find his/her hands in the cookie jar no matter how many degrees he/she has.
These days, qualifications can be bought or obtained from many online quickie schools – that`s why anyone with a degree must first accumulate experience by occupying entry-level positions to prove competency before being promoted.
Poor service delivery and corruption are not due to not having a degree but a consequence of a rotten value system that cannot be cured by a degree/piece of paper.
People without degrees have as much of a chance to perform due to the potential skills and experience they have gained in the time as others spent studying for the degree.
Therefore, qualifications alone should not be a prerequisite, but degrees as well as being ethical and competent should be the answer.
Voter apathy, being the norm among the Namibian electorate in view of the past elections (NA 2019 and LGE2020), the agony experienced by the ANC should be a wake-up call for Swapo.
It should be noted that voter apathy can be attributed to people`s wish to be heard and to be taken seriously.
During the last elections, slogans such as “we heard you” were used to conciliate the voters but whether people`s wishes had been heard seriously is a question different people from diverse angles will answer divergently.
The people are becoming aware they are citizens with rights, and that they should be treated accordingly.
They are adamant that for as long as government officials continue to assume that mandate at the polls, they have the mandate to act in a unilateral – and the top-down manner low voter turn-up can be expected.
This approach undermines public participation, which is intrinsic to the core meaning of democracy.
The first thing is respect for the public and public funds.
Thus, what is critical is a good combination of theoretical knowledge and practical understanding, coupled with integrity and competence.
Having a degree alone will not make a difference if one does not have a passion to serve the citizens by doing what is right, honest and efficient.