Meanwhile the central African strip, from east to west, is bursting into a crusade / jihadist nightmare as the consequences of the Libyan idiocy, mercenaries, sophisticated weaponry and bags of gold fuel a great divide as the Syrian civil war divides the Middle East along tribal and sectarian lines.
Add the obvious of the continuing political fudging of basic economics and look at our southern big neighbour openly killing its people as it fully admits businesses will only succeed if they are subservient members of the ruling party. Ministerial start-of-the-year speeches will praise the incompetent, deny the obvious and promise what they cannot deliver! Little has changed besides the worrying rise in intolerant behaviour worldwide.
Most of this insanity can be firmly placed at the door of failure of governance, albeit social, economic or political. Such failure can almost always be attributed to groups in ascending power situations further entrenching their positions of access to wealth and privilege at the expense of the weaker majority. Eventually, without some form of compromise and political adjustment, the camel’s back is broken, usually by collapse of services and democratic trust.
Namibia has been fortunate in that despite serious failings adequate funding has been available to apply short-term fixes. But, our real problems, a too large public service, the severe failures of SOEs, notably the once functional and profitable, NWR, Air Namibia and TransNamib amongst many, the constant outsourcing of jobs once well done by GRN to political friends at great cost and a tender system that is little more than a rubber-stamping joke, we still have not jumped off the political cliff of tribalism and surrogate brutality. We have survived the 20-year benchmark, so far.
However, all our failings are ultimately due to a lack of critical oversight by our legislative body which by its makeup is dominated by the very people who should be under the thumb of oversight scrutiny – the administrative heads of ministries – ministers! While our initial stab at democracy probably wisely chose a route favouring proportional representation (party list) it is time to re-evaluate circumstances while the ruling party has sufficient power! We should view our decision-making process horribly overlapping what should be an independent and dynamic oversight function rending it politically and functionally sterile.
The decision process is equally sterilised by about 30 Cabinet members all trying to be heard. Too many OMAs, too many public servants, to many overlapping accountabilities, too much complexity for a country with relatively simple needs.
The SOE farce epitomises this as what (say) NWR, AirNamibia and TransNamib need is top bosses to administer the hatchet! Not those committed to the begging bowl. It is also evident that the National Council , being the “representative” wing of the democratic process, has little or no impact.
Where to now? Fortunately we have in power those who created our Constitution and are the fathers of our democracy, The Hages, the PeteKats, the TheoBens, Nahas Angula and many others now in their final years who sold us Swapo’s democratic intention and, I believe, were honest about it. Now they should gild their constitutional lily by making radical change to allow more representative say in Namibia’s future.
They should reduce parliamentary process to one house, the 72 plus the 26 representative members, have a cluster focused cabinet of no more than 10 senior ministers and a programme to move 50% of public service members to implementation roles in regions over (say) 3 years.
Also consideration should be given to limited tenure of lower ranks to give school leavers an entry point to service and its training. Ultimately pushing implementation to regional governors and oversight to parliament structures.
Come on old guys, you can still be radical before ending up on ‘Boot Hill’; or enjoy ‘Last Chance Saloon’?