Dr Job Shipululo Amupanda
Although not promised to anyone, tomorrow always belongs to, and is won by, those who prepare for it today. Central to the tomorrow thought is a conscious comprehension of the concept of time.
The calculation of time as seconds that become minutes, minutes that become hours, hours that evolve to days, days that turn to weeks, weeks to months, months into years, years to decades, and decades becoming centuries – is not just a mathematical and calendar activity. It is a framework for organising the way we are to exist.
Granted, individuals and societies do and will experience time differently but there are certain facts that one cannot change. One such fact is that time moves only in one direction – forward, leaving behind what is known as history. It is for this reason that no one can go back in time and change the past. In this framework of time in which we exist, it is expected of leaders to master and manage time very well. Indeed, as leaders we are to ask and answer simple questions such as: what time is it (decimal and seasonal)? What is to be done? What is appropriate?
Given that we cannot pause time, to rearrange and adjust, time will never be enough. As such we must do what we can, when we can, and where we can. Fundamental is in the mastery and management of time.
June 2021 marks six calendar months of being in office as the political leadership of the Municipal Council of Windhoek. We too must answer the question of time. What time is it (decimal and seasonal)? What is to be done? And indeed, what is appropriate? We are clear; the time is six months in the year of 2021 (31 years after independence) - a time when Namibia is an under-developed country characterised globally, as one of the most unequal nations on the face of the earth. We are at a time when our country needs moral, young and meritocratic leadership to deliver a developmental state.
What is to be done is the transformation of our society, to bring about real politics of emancipation – to bring about real change in the socio-economic lives of the hungry, thirsty, and despondent masses of our people.
What is appropriate is to put in place mechanisms and processes that bring about change and transformation. We have studied this time and we characterise it, as the season of cultivation and planting.
To the Africans and the farmers, the importance of cultivation and planting cannot be over-emphasised. We are the first to admit that to bring change to Windhoek - to change the 31-year-old concrete dumped in a garden and to freshen and brighten the rusty steels idling for decades; to get the beneficiaries for 31 years to accept that their exclusive dining table will be taken to the masses – is a mammoth task. It is for this reason that over the past six months, our cultivation and planting approach not only allowed us to study and understand the machinery of the municipal council but also required the identification of the best seeds to plant.
Our approach to planting the seeds of transformation draw inspiration from physics and philosophy. In physics, we learn of the Law of Inertia or Newton’s First Law of Motion. According to this law, we are informed that “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
From philosophy, we learn of the Law of the Negation of the Negation. This law locates development in three stages: firstly, the original state of the object, secondly its transformation into its opposite (its negation) and thirdly, the transformation of the opposite, into its own opposite.
It is submitted, in this law, that if the old is not negated, then it will be extremely hard for the new to arise and mature, thereby making the process of development difficult. It is thus submitted that nature is constantly expanding through dying; objects tend to negate themselves for the purpose of reproducing themselves, into higher quantity. As such, what is new, replaces what is old, and the present new, will be replaced again by another new, when the current new, becomes old.
Consider the green bean plant: the bean seed germinates, and out of its negation, comes a plant. This plant grows and produces more bean seeds. The green bean plant does not last forever, in fact not even beyond a year. However, during its lifetime, the harvesting of beans is required whilst still firm and before they bulge. This enables the plant to produce more beans: and such is the Law of the Negation of the Negation.
We are clear, as we learn from physics, that unless we take drastic measures, the Municipal Council of Windhoek will remain at rest and move at the same speed. To plant the seed of transformation, we characterise ourselves as the unbalanced force, acting upon the city at rest and in motion at the same speed. In adopting the principle of pre-allocation of land at our first council meeting, we are planted a seed of allocating land (currently being planned and subsequently cleared and demarcated), to the masses of our people who for years were on a municipality waiting list. The intent is to avail such land at an accelerated rate and make a vast impact on the quality of life of our people.
We are in a process of recruiting a CEO, a key functionary of the Municipal Council of Windhoek, who will assist us to conceptualise and implement developmental plans. The absence of a substantive head of administration has a negative impact on our transformation journey. Part of the selection and vetting criteria for such a principal office bearer, will now require candidates to make public presentations and take questions from the public. So once again, the seeds of transparency were planted. With this seed, we seek to negate and eliminate an old culture of clandestine dealings, and suspicious recruitment practices of senior executives.
The process we are involved in, nearing completion, of the Spatial Development Framework, is yet another seed planted, that ensures all future development plans in Windhoek, are guided by a 20-year development framework – the first of its kind in Namibia.
In taking resolute decisions of enforcing our debt management and credit policies, we are negating an old culture of non-payment of municipal services, so that in future, everyone respects and takes the municipal bills seriously.
By settling the municipal debt to several creditors, most of which we found (having accumulated over past years), we planted a seed of sound financial stewardship and took responsibility as part of greater national duty of care and accountability.
By initiating a call for innovative ideas for economic growth through the adoption of the Windhoek Economic Recovery initiative (WERI), for which an Expression of Interest will appear in public in the coming weeks, we are acting resolutely and negating the corrupt culture, in existence for 31 years, where only economic/business proposals of the connected, who pay bribes to officials and councilors, reach the Council. There are many activities we have engaged in during this season of cultivating and planting of seeds. While moving in gear two as from July 2021, it may be necessary to continue planting more seeds over the next sixth months instead of relying on those previously planted. In the fullness of time, we can showcase the seeds and reaped harvests.
We are not naïve. We are aware that we are not the only ones with the capacity and capability to plant seeds. We know that there are others who plant seeds of opposite nature; the seeds of corruption, the seeds capture, the seeds of stagnation and regress. Indeed, the seeds to counter the seeds already planted in anticipated progress. Although we must remain vigilant to counter-revolutionary cultivators and planters, we must not worry much about those whose business is conducted in dark corners. The sun and light always win over darkness. Truth always prevails and rises to the surface, like cream in a glass of milk: no matter the amount of milk you pour, cream will always rise on top.
Let us continue with planting the seeds and watering the land so that our plants can germinate and grow to produce the fruits for the masses of our people. The season of planting is not an easy one. Not everyone values the importance of planting seeds. Some will only take us seriously when they see the actual trees we have planted. Even when the trees eventually grow, some will only take us seriously when the trees start bearing fruits. Even when the trees produce fruits, some will only take us seriously once those fruits come to them. Even when the fruits come to them, some will only appreciate when they have many fruits. Even when they receive abundant fruits, some will still assess whether fruits are sweet enough.
We must not give up just because our people have continuous demands and expectations. As councillors, officials, friends, and residents of Windhoek, we must use various platforms available to us, to communicate to the masses of our people that we have studied and understood the times we find ourselves in.
We must explain to the masses of our people the importance of the activity we are busy with: planting seeds for a better Windhoek. A Windhoek that will not relent, equivocate, or compromise. A Windhoek of prosperity, harmony, and happiness. So, let’s do this. We can do this. We got this!
* Dr Job Shipululo Amupanda is the mayor of Windhoek. This was his address at the sixth ordinary meeting of the Municipal Council of Windhoek on 24 June 2021.