It is unquestionable that we live in a time where we have unprecedented access to information. This reality brings with it the fact that we as citizens are caught up in a web of information and disinformation. Unfortunately, not all of us are always good at distinguishing between facts and “political spin”.
This is so, because unlike in 1990 at independence, all that is required today for one to bring across a message to the masses is to have access to the internet and an agenda. Unless we think critically, more often we accept information that “feels right”, which leaves us at risk of being used as in the theatre of politics.
Mahatma Gandhi reflected on this in another period in history when he spoke of Seven Social Sins which are:
“Wealth without work;
Pleasure without conscience;
Knowledge without character;
Commence without morality;
Science without humanity;
Worship without sacrifice; and
Politics without principle”
Whiles this idea reflects on another time in history it is especially relevant in the time we are living in today because of the elusiveness of truth in society. It is unquestionable that there is a need to elevate the politics in our country.
In our neighbouring country South Africa, the ANC toppled Thabo Mbeki, who was without question one of the most forward thinking Presidents of his time, through a series of lies spread by his opponents. These lies ranged from the general perception that the South African society was worst of under the Mbeki government then they were at 1994. They even went as far as accusing him of abusing state resources to target political score with an idea which was championed by then ANC Youth League President, Julius Malema, who later by his own admission admitted these allegations to be false.
Even global politics is not spared from the toxic: information wars”. Who could ever forget the reasons advanced by the United States of America’s invention of Iraq who have to date not shown us the weapons of mass destruction.
There are countless examples to draw from in resent times in history, where society is left vulnerable to conspiracy theories and political manipulation, and Namibia is no exception. One cannot help but to be concerned about the politics in our country right now. From the rising tide of incitements to violence, to the political character assassinations to the social-media discourse, people are caught up in this information war and one cannot help but to be worried if this trend will not lead to people losing faith in governance altogether.
There is a general derangement syndrome in our politics. So much so that we have become suspicious of everything our leaders say and do. Name calling is the order of the day rather than focusing on efforts aimed at economic growth, job creation and fostering social cohesion.
Some amongst us have deliberately chosen the politics of fear by making politics about us or them. According to them, they are the good people and others are the bad ones. But what you will find is that it is not always easy as that. Often there are many contradictions amongst them and at times the same people practices selective morality. However, the good thing about all this is that the extremists often discredit themselves in the long run. Going back to Mahatma Gandhi one cannot help but to believe that a society without a moral proposition is doomed. Politicians as leaders of society should understand that very fact. People look to leaders to inspire hope rather than pessimism and discord. Being a young democracy has placed us in a very furnated position where we can learn from mistakes made elsewhere. Be that as it may, one would believe that we would have learned that it is lying and falsehoods that have led to bloodshed or civil war in many countries and not neccerily the unkind things said to each other. Thus, there is a need to elevate the level of politics in our country.
One might be inclined to ask, how do we as ordinary citizens ensure that and the answer is quite simple. Get involved with the political party that is closely aligned with your views. Let us accept the reality that we have to be the agents of change. We need to drive the consecration so that it is not about name calling but rather about best policies and programs that can make a meaningful change in the lives of all our people. In the words of our President, “we need to play the ball and not the player”. We only have one Namibia and regardless of our political difference, we need each other. In the words of Martin Luther Jnr “we must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
*Herold Stanley Binda is a student of Masters in Leadership and Change Management at the University of Science and Technology (Nust). The views expressed are personal views. firstname.lastname@example.org
2019-05-03 10:46:51 18 days ago