Namibians, Africans and global citizens generally have the desire for their countries to grow and develop. In the midst of a global pandemic, humanity is faced with its greatest challenges of being unable to ensure the well-being of people, the planet and profits. As people, we must now realise that the choices that we are making have the power to create or destroy our country, the continent and the world. To guide us to a better future, people are elected to lead with the assumption that they can deliver upon this promise. Nevertheless, history has proven that every elected human heart and/or follower has the ability to create or destroy this dream. Duality is a common occurrence in life, exhibited in the elements of nature such as fire, water, air and earth they all have this innate duality. For example, fire burns and warms; water quenches and drowns, for this reason, in an independent Namibia, we have come to a critical juncture of having the power to create or destroy our country.
As a nation, we need to understand the causes and effects of our values as a prerequisite to addressing the issue of the common good. As a collective, we must intentionally choose to dignify or humiliate people. Intentionality is fundamental and it’s more than having good ideas, policies or laws. From a high stakes perspective, intentionality requires the public & private sectors, civil society and individual citizens to address the issues that we face from a multifaceted approach. Firstly, it’s significant to acquire, understand and apply pluralistic knowledge & data; secondly, to implement a systemic response that is institutionalized, efficient and cost-effective. Lastly, a structure that prioritizes service delivery through research & development, coordination, networking, financing, infrastructure, capacity building & skills development at national and subnational levels. Not establishing such a comprehensive framework leads to the humiliation of people, intentionally or unintentionally, therefore, undermining the enshrined constitutional value of human dignity.
The simple question is: how do stakeholders institutionalize the nation’s vision? The current model of our thinking, our society and our economy are based on principles of exclusive economics that are predominantly influenced by African elites who have an obsession for supply side economics. The dominating school of thought focuses on extractive industries, creating an economy that depends solely on its value in global markets. This model of the economy is limited as it cements an enabling environment for political elitism and socio-economic marginalization. Furthermore, the beneficiaries of this model are people that have access to infrastructure, financing and capacity. Unfortunately, this is an elite minority that benefits from an inherited comparative advantage or from new money that can only fuel the growth of families and not societies at large.
Innovating will grow and develop Namibia’s intellectual property regime to enhance the local value chain, increasing beneficiation that can be retained in-country through true ‘growth at home’. Having a ‘production over consumption’ mentality is vital in a national strategy because it meets people’s needs and wants through innovation. Innovation is a key driver for mobility, growth, prosperity, development, equity and safety because it enables us to produce unique cultural goods and services that are supplied and demanded by communities and markets. Net production rates are also essential. Therefore, as much as we focus on the supply side, the nation has to focus and prioritise demand side economics as well. Having tunnel vision about the supply side of growth and development is naïve, however incorporating demand, is smart as demand drives innovation, which consequently leads to socio-economic growth and development.
The future of the world’s economies depends on creating goods and services that don’t exist today, central to both the extractive and innovation economies. A manic desire to shift the paradigm to prioritizing collective gain over individual greed in the hearts of Namibians is a matter of urgency. The economy needs to expand its focus and not be stuck in merely supplying the global, regional, national and local value chains with raw materials, but rather re-create, re-innovate, re-structure, re-strategize, re-skill, re-staff, re-style, redistribute power and state resources at national, subnational and local levels. This means focusing on what the market and communities want and investing in interventions that give people agency, capital, enterprise, land, technology, employment and pleasure.
It is important to establish a Namibian institutional value proposition that celebrates the Preamble of the Constitution by allowing an enabling environment for the pursuit of happiness for the collective interest to be primary, while secondarily ensuring individual fulfilment. The current model that prioritizes individual gain over the collective is unsustainable and will create a backwards society. Essentially people survive by nurturing positive habits, but those can be limited to self, family, community and does not necessarily benefit the common good. Therefore, we have to ask: in the interest of the common good- what do we prioritise as a nation? Self-interest versus the common good and/or people-centred investment versus individual enrichment. The duality runs deep, and these concepts are mutually inclusive and can’t be eliminated, but the collective is more imperative than the individual, and this reality must be reflected in the allocation of power and resources.
As a response to the national development gaps that we face, human creativity is the most fundamental resource for economic, social and cultural transformation. Prioritising these aspects simultaneously is key. Making one compete against the other is outdated and doesn’t provide a ‘fit for purpose’ model and that is able to ensure that Namibians thrive. Human beings, in general, have an intricate relationship with their needs and wants, a closely linked occurrence that is innately inseparable. This phenomenon is clearly evident in the lives of those with power, resource and privilege, which necessitates public demand for the elites to be mandated to distribute this power, resource and privilege to the masses.
Making any other political decision, especially normalizing systemic corruption that selfishly benefits individuals and families, exploits public resources and diminishes public confidence in leadership, and this will ultimately destroy this county. Our current actions will not create a Namibia envisioned by our ancestors and our founders. Our individual interests continue to build on the rotten foundations of greed inherited from colonialism & apartheid. To shape human dignity, we must destroy and deny the humiliation from these oppressive, suppressive and regressive ties to the agenda and system of the elite minority. We can endorse our indigenous values of the collective that embrace compassion and Ubuntu, values that can be lived by and institutionalized to ensure the wellbeing of people, planet and profit.
Namibians must now make the intentional choice in their hearts, minds and soul: Are we going to create or destroy this country?