One cannot agree more or less with the juxtaposition in last Friday’s The Namibian newspaper by the editor’s guest in the persona of Rinaani Musutua, that this is A Time for Change.
Indeed, the freedom and independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990, did not only usher so much A Time for Change but an epoch for change. Epoch for change in that the desired change is, and cannot be a once-off matter. Meaning that change cannot be an overtime happening or event but an epoch and thus a process.
Namibia’s freedom and independence on 21 March 1990, was not the beginning of the wind of A Time for Change. This started way back in the 1800s, especially after the 1884 Berlin Conference when the African Continent, including Namibia, then South West Africa, was partitioned by the Western/European colonial powers. There and then fathers and mothers of the Namibian nationalist resistance movement, started the resistance movement against Western Colonialism, and in the case of Namibia specifically, against German Imperialism.
Following the valiant acts of bravery and selflessness by forebears, they passed on the baton to the latter-day liberation fighters, especially against Apartheid Colonialism and Imperialism under the South African regime. Thus, until with Namibian independence and freedom in 1990, the country had inherited close to 200 years of colonial legacy of underdevelopment.
All and sundry, Pan Africanists and Internationalists, and social and/or socialist activists like Musutua not the least, should be in the know that what happened in 1990 was just flag independence. Hence the essence of embarking on economic emancipation post-independence, or the second phase of the struggle, which is about economic independence, all things being equal.
All things being equal because there is no way Namibia can achieve economic independence that is a high measure of social and economic justice ala the Musutuas of this word, unless the haves are prepared to share their ill-gotten wealth with the have-nots. This is what should be understood with the concept of economic freedom. When the resources of the country are shared on an egalitarian basis. But for such to happen, all things must be equal as the libertarian economist would have it. Not only this but there must within society be a radical ideological paradigm shift. Until such happens we cannot dream in Namibia about a radical economic transformation of society, and its basic edifices, most important of them, the superstructure. Which is the economic foundation. Can we expect from the way the Namibian society is structured. With its strong foundation on and of the exploitative economic system, to allow for egalitarianism.
Surely Musutua being the social and economic justice advocate and activist that she appears to be, would agree there is no way before destroying all the vestiges of colonialism and neo-colonialism as currently may be the case in Namibia, could and can hope for an egalitarian society. Moreover, close to 200 years of colonialism and neo-colonialism cannot be undone and overhauled, let alone be reformed in 29 years of freedom and independence. Emphasis here is on freedom and independence only unaccompanied by a radical economic transformation. As Musutua would appreciate it would be unjust to apportion blame on the father and mothers of the liberation struggle, for accepting the country’s independence under the five Western contact group principles, which bequeathed an independent Namibia a negotiated settlement.
How could they have been judiciously, and if you like politically be wrong being in the school of such Pan Africanist greats like Kwame Nkrumah and his dictum of: seek ye the political freedom and all the other things will be added as they may have been? Does it mean they and us as well should have rejected the political freedom that we very much craved for and fought for decades since the resistance movement?
One cannot but beg to differ with Musutua in this regard, freedom and independence is what we have achieved on 21 March 1990. It is up to the country now to decide what independence or wishes to advance it beyond this to a more egalitarian society. This is so much what the founders believe in or would make us believe they believe or believed in, but what the whole country believes in, social and economic justice. The very core principles Musutua as a social and economic justice. The very core principles Musutua as a social and economic justice activist equally believes in.
There are many things that each and every Namibian should appreciate freedom and independence have brought. Foremost among them are the Chapter Three articles of our Constitution which are about Human Rights and Freedoms. Protection of Life and Liberty; Respect for Human Dignity; Slavery and forced Labour: Equality and freedom for Discrimination; fair Trial. Granted one may not live by such rights and freedoms nor eat them. But as much they are by any means not negligible in any way.
In fact, they are the much needed guarantor towards peace and stability that the country needs for her pursuit of our other basic needs including physical one like freedom from poverty and hunger. Much so they have been the antidote against the perceived chaos by Musutua.
Admittedly so much still needs doing in Namibia in terms of administering to the socio-economic needs of the mass of the Namibian people. Not to mention the fact that the aforementioned fundamental rights and freedoms have raised many expectations, and rightly so, among the mass of our wretched. Indeed, the Namibian government has since independence been doing it utmost best to first provide the necessary conditions and environs under which all Namibians can freely provide for themselves through on economic endeavours. As article 21 of the Constitution well provides for that all persons shall have the right to subsection 1 (i) practice any profession, or carry on any occupation, trade or business. But conscious that there may be those for whom the government would have to directly provide for. Among them are our senior citizens. The government’s endeavours in this regard speak volumes with senior citizens now receiving monthly allowances of N$ 1200 through what is known as the Basic Social Grant. Namibia is one of only two Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries with South Africa with such a grant. And perhaps one of only two African countries on the whole continent.
The role of our senior citizens in society as the last bastions of family cohesion, is undeniable. Hence the Basic Social Grant comes in good stead in helping the senior citizens fulfil as harbingers of cohesive families and thus a cohesive society.
The Apartheid Colonial regime of South Africa only catered for the minority privileged races. Given that it only catered for the minority it is baffling how in every aspect and respect it can be compared with the government of the Republic of Namibia which has not only vowed that none shall be left out of the Namibian House but has been striving towards that ideal.
Hence the peace, stability, unity and the rule of law that has been the hallmark of Namibian democracy since independence, and the resultant social cohesion. But in terms of governance there is and cannot be any pretense that this is work in progress, Even for countries with a culture of democracy for decades, they shall never reach a stage where they can be said to have perfected democracy, as such would remain work in progress for ever. Thus. Namibia cannot but pride herself for the good beginning in this regard. But deficits remain and it is incumbent upon every citizen to ensure this beginning advance as minimalist as this may be from day to day, month to month or year to year.
While admittedly the mass of the Namibian people still need access to proper public services like health, education, agricultural extension services, indeed a lot has been achieved in this regard with universal access to education a policy matter. Likewise, more people have got access to health facilities within a distance. This is as much as the quality and stand of health delivery remains work in progress. In terms of housing in most of all our urban centres the standard of housing has greatly improved and a far cry from the colonial era with most of the houses fit for human habitation. But again one must admit that urban influx to most of this urban centres has compounded the acute shortage for houses, considering that those who have been flocking to urban centres have little economic wherewithal as jobseekers. Hence the government’s emphasis on rural development to stem the tide of rural migration.
In terms of road and telecommunications infrastructure. Namibia cannot only pride itself in the infrastructure it has inherited from colonialism, but she can today proudly speak of an infrastructure base which can be even an envy of some developed country. We all should be aware of the sterling work of the Mobile telecommunications Company (MTC), Telecom Namibia and Namibia Post.
To quote His Excellency, Dr Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia.
“Our economic situation has compelled us to rethink our developmental path, which has had a disproportionate reliance on Government expenditure. This approach cannot be sustainable in the long run. There is thus need to buttress ongoing reforms to ensure a more conducive business environment and reduction in bureaucratic bottlenecks.”
‘To revive our economy in a sustainable manner, we all have to play our part-the public sector including public enterprises, private sector, civil society, trade unions and development planners. The private sector as the engine for economic growth should therefore subscribe to our common agenda for inclusive and shared prosperity and as much our social and economic justice activists. -
*Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana the Executive Director Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT)
2019-11-07 07:33:57 | 10 months ago