It is rampant and mostly unchecked, and in my view has no justification, whether these ‘gold-diggers’ are black or white (for they come in all colours) and are ultimately responsible for our country being labelled as one of the most unequal societies in the world.
There are those in Government, private sector, parastatals and professions, only after instant riches and who are concerned about only themselves. There are those who are openly, and unashamedly ambitious, and if they are so because of hard-work and honest business, I have no quarrel with such business entrepreneurs.
Where I do take serious issue are with are those in Government and parastatals who, despite earning well, are not prepared to stop there and be satisfied with what they have. Also those ‘instant millionaires’ through various schemes, usually involving the country’s resources in one way or another. They are known, and people talk about them, and they’ve also been in the news frequently, many of those whose god is money. Also those in the private sector who dance to the tune of wrongdoers in Government, because ‘it takes two to tango’. There are even those who pretend honesty and who ‘condemn’ rampant corruption while benefitting from dubious deals. In short, the greedy are among us all and particularly the most senior levels of society.
Not that corruption didn’t already exist, but the benefits of being ‘previously disadvantaged’ have simply helped increase the rot. All over Namibia, people in the most prominent positions have received concessions and tenders and other deals on the basis of this (often false) claim.
I’m not the only Namibian who would like to live in a more transparent and accountable society in which we can know, or have insight into those who’ve been recipient of ill-gotten gains in one way or another, or who have benefitted from ‘deals’ at all levels, but mostly through Government connections.
And everybody talks about the necessity of BEE legislation to curb these excesses, but there’s little speed or urgency being applied to implementing rules and regulations to govern business practices. When it eventually happens, one could argue, it may well be too late.
It is not unfair to say that most people aspire towards a decent and comfortable life, and there is no crime in wanting the best for oneself and one’s family, but there must be limits to the depths to which some are prepared to sink to acquire all that money can buy, especially when this is at the expense of the have-nots who are denied even life’s basics because some of their compatriots want to have it all.
Some are naive enough to believe that the poor are poor because the whites own the greatest portion of the economy and black Namibians simply want to redress the imbalance. Since we have a dearth of reliable statistics, and given the manifold ways in which the unethical monied elite can ‘hide’ their assets, through proxies and other means (whether they are black or white) we are unable to factually check this. But in the same fallacious way as Swapo sometimes threatens an unsophisticated electorate that ‘if you don’t vote Swapo the Casspirs will come back’, so too will they defend their own greed by arguing to reverse colonialism. And they continue to misrepresent the struggle, for it was never about putting riches in the hands of the few.
Most of the nouveau riche, as they could be termed, are not creating jobs and/or putting back into their communities, or if so, in mostly minimal ways. They are making money in ways where they really don’t have to put in an honest day’s work, but simply broker big deals and earn commissions often putting our resources back into neo-colonial hands. And many are spending the money abroad.
A half-hearted attempt, for example, was made to get political office-bearers to account for business interests, but this is nothing short of a joke. Only the President has insight, and that’s where it stops, if at all these declarations are indeed done, or whether they are honest about it.
Is a society entitled to know the worth of those who have the largest slice of the cake? If so, Namibia as a country does not comply. Is there a reason that we don’t, or aren’t allowed to, know, what such people are worth, especially if they hold public office? And what can we do to change things?
For now the rampant avarice, at mostly senior and intermediary levels, is allowed to proceed almost unchecked.
The big danger is that otherwise honest citizens are drawn into a web of envy and desire to emulate the material excesses of their greedy compatriots as our national morality recedes. How can we, as a people, stem the tide?