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Opinion - The effect of racism and tribalism on our democracy

2020-07-13  Staff Reporter

Opinion - The effect of racism and tribalism on our democracy
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Inclusivity and unity are key principles towards the attainment of a common objective. An effective and responsive democracy is formed and founded on the bases of constitutional rights and freedoms under which every person has equal fundamental human rights and the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of democracy. 

In a democracy like ours, we ought to judge and criticise an individual based on his or her ability to execute various tasks; and not on the tribe, they form part of and or the colour of their skin. Factors such as nepotism are not only negative in their nature but they infringe constitutional rights and freedoms. Missing an opportunity because of the colour of your skin or the language that you speak does create a non-conducive environment in which no matter how competent one may be, the determining factor for excellence is race or tribal origin and background. Therefore, it is constitutionally and practically unjust to deny anyone a fair chance to challenge and compete for opportunities and or positions in a democratic state because of racism and or tribalism.  

For far too long in our country (Namibia) in politics people tend to have normalised the linking of political parties to certain specific race and tribes.  People have been and continue to be criticised for belonging to a different political party instead of the one they are perceived to belong. Racism and tribalism in the political arena will affect the successful execution of political manifestos. Furthermore, racism and tribalism will prompt discrimination within political parties and for the party that is in power, it has the ability to affect democratic obligations and mandates of government. 

There is a need and call to decisively deal with elements of racism and tribalism in Namibia for the protection of our democracy. The three branches of government have to collectively adopt laws, sign them off, and enforce laws that are aimed at defending our democracy and fighting racism and tribalism. A democratically elected government is supposed to be free of racism and tribalism within it is spheres of government. However, people can be at fault for assuming that they missed an opportunity because of racism and or tribalism while in fact, they did not deserve the opportunity or position based on technicality. Therefore, the government through various levels of government has to find stiffer ways to help deal with allegations of both racism and tribalism because false allegations are equally able to tarnish a good image of any democracy.

The attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vision 2030, and other goals by different sectors of our democracy will only be possible without acts of racism and tribalism, among many other conflicting factors. The moment we have infightings within our democracy as a result of racism and or tribalism what suffers drastically is national development and the pace of developmental activities. It is against humanity to judge someone based on the colour of his or her skin and or tribal affiliation. In order to work together and protect our democracy, we have to do away with acts of racism and tribalism.   Individuals that practice racism or tribalism like everyone else, they also have close relationships with people that care about them, if everyone continues protecting those that do wrong because they have relations to them it will be very hard to hold people accountable for their wrongdoings. For a country that is seriously affected by conflicting problems of poverty, high unemployment, inequality, underdevelopment, and a huge public debt we cannot afford to take on problems of racism and tribalism. Hence, we as a democratic state need to start edging each other to stop the stigma and focus on challenging matters negatively impacting our democracy and standing between our democracy and prosperity.

*Petrus Ndeumono Mbidi has a Diploma in Local Government Studies, an honours degree in Public Management, and he is a final year Masters of Public Administration student at the University of Namibia.

2020-07-13  Staff Reporter

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