‘For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.’
This Bible verse encapsulates the position of former Deputy Prime Minister Libertina Amathila regarding politicians who have overstayed their welcome in political office, locally and elsewhere.
For the veteran politician and medical doctor, politicians must know when to call it a day, instead of clinging to power until their bodies are unable to function without external support.
She said this during an exclusive interview with Nampa, which covered a plethora of contemporary issues recently.
Chief among them is the perceived lack of harmony between the youth and the old guard who boasts about having liberated the country from the shackles of colonialism.
Amathila retired from active politics in 2010 after having served in the Executive for 20 years. She was 70 at the time.
“It’s a fantastic thing to retire while you still have a brain that is working and legs that are still walking and not retire when people are so exhausted with you,” she said.
At present, assertions held by certain quarters are that Namibia is faced with a leadership crisis – where, on one hand, is an impatient youth that wants to take over – while on the other is an old guard determined to lead for eternity.
When this scenario was painted for her, she said those who are past their sell-by-date should leave to pave way for the injection of fresh blood and ideas.
“I don’t believe in dying in a political chair… [while] you’re in your old age, you sit there in a political chair and you’re collapsing because of old age, no. My opinion has always been that when I reach a certain age, I must give room for other people to also bring in new ideas,” she said.
The trend of overstaying in power is not unique to Namibia, she admitted.
She added: “There are politicians who can hardly walk but they are sitting in the chairs [political office] to waste the time of the younger person who could move the country forward.”
Amathila went on to say people like power - and not just Namibians.
‘I don’t know what power brings them... but I don’t think they are so hardworking. They just want to sit there – maybe thinking there is money but there is no money in politics, unless you’re stealing,” she asserted.
She accused politicians of being power-hungry just for its sake.
“I wish they could think differently and give other people the chance to also come in and show what they can do.”
A calculated Amathila equally cautioned that young people are not the panacea to Namibia’s challenges, saying there are those who have fallen into the trap of insatiable greed of using political power for self-gratification instead of addressing the plight of the masses.
“These politicians who are in jail [Fishrot accused] were young people that we brought in. [But] what did they do? What are we reading about them? So, youth do not solve the problem per se,” she pointed out.
“We are so disappointed with those people who we put in these positions and destroyed the country literally,” she further lamented.
She emphasised that a culture of service, sharing and hard work must be re-engineered into Namibia’s moral fibre.