By Apostle Marson Sharpley
THE democratisation of our society is no easy task, because of a number of factors brought about by political, economic as well as by anthropological social dynamics, driven by previous and current narratives that dominate the space occupied by our political discourse.
As far as I remember, even though we grew up operating in democratically-led revolutionary organisations, we never really spoke western democracy, as compared to eastern socialism.
My 1960s generation was born in a time and into organisations that were part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and yet it was aligned to the then Eastern Bloc and progressive nations such as Cuba, the PRC, USSR, Scandinavia and GDR.
Even though being a member of the progressive revolutionary organisations was dangerous, it also at times lent itself to exotic romanticisation and a sense of purpose.
Even today, I remain proud of the fact that together with other cadres I was trained by Cuba and India in a number of equally exotic sounding disciplines and professions that equipped us to be practitioners of specialised skills, much-needed at the time and even now, although some of us look into the review mirror of life now and find those days there somewhere as a time gone by.
It is very clear that the democracy we have all now formally adopted is owned by those nations who have both political and economic power, more so the latter, and who see themselves as the custodians of it.
The greatest threat to any country is its inability to honour and service its debt, both nationally and internationally.
The second most adverse threat to a country’s stability and economic growth is the vigour and extent of black market activity in that country, as well as systemic corruption.
On the other hand, opportunities are in primary and secondary economic activities, through natural resources, telecommunications, the education system, the health sector, transport, infrastructure, power generation, financial services, the SME sector, manufacturing, access to regional and global markets as well as adult literacy and information dissemination.
It is the issue of information dissemination that I would like to extrapolate on for a moment, because it seems as though whilst we “enjoy” democracy, there is also a degree of dangerous recklessness, when it comes to information, which tends to comfortably morph into disinformation and misinformation, unchecked, but instead given the title of FAKE NEWS.
The manipulation and abuse of information should never become an accepted norm in any society that is serious about its development and the social advancement of its people. This does not in any way mean that important, overt developmental information should be held back from the populace.
I believe that in Namibia we pride ourselves as an open society, where information is readily available at all times and nothing, except State secrets, is sacred.
It might be fair to say that whilst the information highway is operating in our country, the quality of the information, over and above the quantity, leaves a lot to be desired.
There is a much greater emphasis, it seems, in our country, on classist materialism driven by egos, to show off social standing, rather than a deeper, intellectually stimulating narrative, aimed at advancing a collective national pride in humanity defined and validated, by our individual and corporate contribution to the betterment of the quality of all lives irrespective of race, colour, creed, tribe or ethnicity.
As Namibians, we have to seriously take stock and do an audit on who, and what, is influencing and impacting the writing of our Namibian story, in our Namibian House.
I want to believe that through NDP5, the Harambee Prosperity Plan and Vision 2030, our strategic plans are futuristic.
But are they understood by the masses who need to own them, because if the masses, from the school desks to the work places in both the public and private sectors do not understand and internalise these plans, then they will once again find themselves being mentioned as great plans on paper, which struggled to be implemented.
Why? Because the necessary positive propagation, whilst being there, failed to simplify the information to a people concentrating on their daily struggles of life and having to address social evils that are terrible, but sometimes exaggerated and magnified by the fact that we are a small population.
It is clear that as a child of international solidarity, Namibia needs to remind the progressive international forces, which parented her that she (Namibia) cannot be orphaned whilst the “parents” are alive; or is it that the “parents” also find themselves struggling to manage their own existence in a fast and ever-changing world, where the emphasis is no more economic rather than politically sentimentality, due to the breakneck speed of globalisation?
It seems that in these democracies, which we are advancing (which is beautiful in definition, but remains a work in progress), the creation of elite cabals, if not brought to order, get to dictate, decide and determine the political, social and economic direction of the country, irrespective of the will of the people, because our countries are forced into an internationally determined mould, to develop themselves along the lines of material greed, rather than in response to the needs of the people; whether it be improved health care, education, affordable housing or improved service delivery and a solid justice system.
Our national strategic plans cannot continue to be hijacked and dominated by a few among us, postulating as revolutionary voices of the people and yet are prepared to sell their birthright and the future of our children for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver, at the expense of both our political and economic ideals and agendas, where institutions which served the apartheid colonial elite continue to be protected and even advanced, due to a shallow or no ideological foundation, except personal enrichment.
This state of affairs has become so commonplace that the arrogance of those, who feel they deserve to have their fingers in every cookie jar, seems to know no bounds and revels in a lack of scruples, by overtly despising the suffering of the people, by placing a price on their heads that can simply be paid by whoever and for whatever is needed; be it a vote to the ruling party congress or the unwarranted attack on the person and character of the president of the country, even through decisive measures, along tribal lines.
Namibia is not a fiefdom and its people are not commodities for sale. Namibia is an internationally recognised country, respected for its rule of law and contribution to the globe, where a nation made up of communities, families and individuals wakes up every morning to work at improving their lives, through providing for their families in the hope that the brightness of the future, reflecting on the horizon, is attainable, irrespective of who they are, as long as they are law-abiding citizens.
As the citizenry, the people have the right to demand, transparency, accountability, equality before the law and service delivery, without being despised. However, it is totally irresponsible of anyone who calls themselves leaders worth their salt to want to instigate people to make unrealistic demands during a global economic slump, unless they are informed by mischievous agendas, aimed at undermining the efforts of the current administration.
Another factor responsible for bedevilling situations is the deliberate leaking of classified information that should not be in the public domain, by unscrupulous officials, because they either have a personal vendetta or are serving interests of a group(s) working to discredit and/or destabilise the leadership of the government, as well as the ruling party.
There are many well-meaning and well-intentioned, hardworking, smart Namibians who truly also need to be given a chance, not to “eat”, but to contribute towards the development of the country in the public sector, by serving in high office.
Our nation, like all other nations across the globe cannot ignore the demand for consistent reflection and audits of institutions and systems, as well as people put in place to not only make things work, by maintaining a status quo, but to research, test and rollout the best-practiced apparatus on offer, but customised to meet our needs as a country.
It sometimes takes unpopular decisions to address situations that need redress. from chaos to order. Self-criticism should not be interpreted as a weakness, but rather as an exercise aimed at improving one’s performance, in order to foster growth and development.
I want to dare say that any sober-minded and well-thinking human being is amphibious, due to their ability to adapt to situations, and their ability to adapt situations to their specific needs and requirements.
We live in truly dangerously exciting times that require integrity and a clear-cut stand for what one believes in.
We have to believe in and support the fact that His Excellency, President Hage Geingob, together with his cabinet, have the interests of Namibia and her people at heart, and uppermost on their minds at all times.
We have to believe in and support them, unless they prove themselves wrong, by not rising to the occasion, by quantifiably delivering on what they promise within reasonable means.
And this is where we, both as leaders and followers, have to be cautious.
*Part two of this piece will be published in next week’s edition
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015