It actively condemned capitalism as the source of all evil and promised to create more equitable and just societies with the black African at centre stage hence introducing a mixed economy system which in return has been swallowed up by capitalism.
Almost all African liberation movements have dismally failed to deliver on their promises because they were simply unrealistic and unattainable.
Instead, our so-called liberators have become the true capitalists who do not only control political power which they continue to hold onto, but have also accumulated considerable personal wealth through corruption and pillage. The cry for economic freedom by the ordinary Namibian citizen has become an inconvenient irritation, to be soothed and hopefully contained by empty-sounding political rhetoric.
Post-independent Namibia and Africa has clearly failed to deliver. As events unfold in Namibia such as NBC, nurses and teachers’ strikes, all are a result of a miscalculated economic system that is not able to sustain its workforce and to curb global inflation.
In South Africa, the masses have run out of patience, and are taking matters into their own hands, which is threatening to tear up Africa’s biggest economy – clearly visible in the Marikana tragedy.
It appears to me that traditional trade unions are fast becoming irrelevant platforms to address what are fundamentally structural economic problems because they have become ladders to get to parliament or to ministerial directorates. The situation is certainly going to get worse, as the realisation dawns on most that, sustainable economic transformation is not about higher wages, better work conditions or higher social grants, as these are temporary.
We need to cause significant shifts in the structure of African economies: from raw capitalism, which is characterised by incessant accumulation of economic power by a few, to a more equitable economic welfare system that seeks to deliberately expunge mass poverty.
Most post-independent African states have failed to shift their economies in that direction because of inept political leadership that simply adopted the colonial capitalist state, because it was convenient and less painful. They pursued the safest route of preserving the capitalist regimes of pre-interdependent Africa, by getting a few black graduates into the ownership of capital e.g. BEE without fundamentally changing the economic system.
What this has done, is to create a black elite, keen on preserving an exclusive resource ownership regime.
As a result, the economic condition faced by the masses has not improved at all but has actually deteriorated since independence. The masses are wondering whatever happened to the promised economic freedom.
This has been the experience in Zimbabwe, for example, hence 32 years later; we are still talking about indigenising the economy. This is so despite having taken over vast agricultural resources of the country. Unfortunately, this will not work because it lacks credibility and vision.
Our politicians and the top military brass have carved out for themselves lucrative sectors of the economy and are effectively running a parallel economy to the benefit of a few.
The masses are expected to eke out a living while remaining at the fringes of the economy.
South Africa has done no better; the poor have become more marginalised as we see a rapacious black capitalist class emerging. These black elites are far removed from realities of shack dwellers and underpaid miners who are now fighting for economic freedom. The chickens are coming home to roost.
The truth is, we need a paradigm shift in the way we selectively empower certain people at the behest of the masses who are feeling and breathing poverty, eating poverty and digesting and assimilating it.
Nelson Mandela once said poverty is not a natural disaster but a man-made disaster.
Our people are living on a lonely island of poverty surrounded by the huge ocean of natural wealth which they don’t have the skill to convert into a useful resource.
We are poor and we are demanding equal access to our riches.
Kelvin Kondjeni Naholo