Political Perspective

Political Perspective

ONE of the ways in which to move a nation forward is to inspire them.This requires not only leadership skills, which remain in painfully short supply in Namibia, but also courage, commitment and charisma.

One would think there would be an abundance of the abovementioned in what is euphemistically known as the ‘land of the brave’, particularly given that we have people who have been career politicians almost their entire lives, but it is sad to note that we have so few uplifting role models. WHEN circumstances are troubling, such people can come to the fore to move and encourage those who are gloomy and unmotivated, and spur them to action and involvement in causes and communities.If there’s one place that illuminates our lack of such people, it is television.Switch it on during almost any news broadcast and you will get the same thing: an endless supply of politicians and so-called ‘leaders’ across the spectrum of private and public spheres, who simply read, with little conviction or care, the speeches that have, in most cases, been written for them.Ministers, you name them, who find it hard to say anything without lifting their eyes from the meaningless tract that has been typed up for them.And because this is so, they come across as turgid and boring in the extreme.If they have no conviction when they speak, how can they expect to media to report them with any great level of interest? And these are people talking about things in their areas of expertise! Things they should know about, care about and be impassioned about.Because if they did, they would inspire the people watching and listening to them, to do the same.But they fail.If there were typing or grammatical errors in the speech, they would make these too.And I’m always reminded about the silly example (and I believe it is not a joke) of a politician in South African who had to speak and later unveil a plaque.He dutifully read his speech from start to finish and when he came to the conclusion, his speechwriter had bracketed an instruction for him to now ‘pull the cord’.Rather than pull the cord to unveil the plaque, the politician had simply read this instruction aloud, while aides were frantically gesticulating for him to do what the occasion demanded of him! More often than not, when a politician is required to speak at a workshop or opening of some sort, the conveners are requested to provide a written speech for them.It is rare to find those who write it themselves, or instruct their speechwriters to incorporate certain points that are considered important by the speakers themselves.Often there is little to no understanding on their own part of what they’re reading aloud to an audience battling to keep awake.One night this week, I saw only one person speaking ‘off the cuff’ as we say.He was well down in the running order of the news, but Ralph Blaauw of the National Youth Council actually spoke his own words, and it made an immediate difference to the viewer, because one immediately gained the impression that he had an interest in what he was talking about.Another exception was Minister John Pandeni, who does get impassioned, although it is often difficult to understand his delivery.He was preceded by a couple of Ministers who were deadly boring in delivering their litanies, but who, ironically, would probably at some stage or another, complain that they had not been reported verbatim! God forbid that we should do that.While the role of the media is diverse and almost all-encompassing, according to Information and Broadcasting Minister Netumbo Ndaitwah, I’m sure putting people to sleep is not one of our tasks! And it is not as if we lack issues in this country.They are too many to mention.There are things, from HIV-AIDS to crime to rape to corruption, that should engender some passion on the part of people who are supposedly the experts in these areas.Even if they cannot generate any charisma, they could surely be quietly authoritative in what they say.The unfortunate thing is that it tells us, at the end of the day, that they’re not really confident talking about the subjects they speak on and are not well-versed in the fields in which they are employed.We do need to hear people who know their stuff, so to speak, because they can not only make a difference, but they can change things and people’s attitudes too.WHEN circumstances are troubling, such people can come to the fore to move and encourage those who are gloomy and unmotivated, and spur them to action and involvement in causes and communities.If there’s one place that illuminates our lack of such people, it is television.Switch it on during almost any news broadcast and you will get the same thing: an endless supply of politicians and so-called ‘leaders’ across the spectrum of private and public spheres, who simply read, with little conviction or care, the speeches that have, in most cases, been written for them.Ministers, you name them, who find it hard to say anything without lifting their eyes from the meaningless tract that has been typed up for them.And because this is so, they come across as turgid and boring in the extreme.If they have no conviction when they speak, how can they expect to media to report them with any great level of interest? And these are people talking about things in their areas of expertise! Things they should know about, care about and be impassioned about.Because if they did, they would inspire the people watching and listening to them, to do the same.But they fail.If there were typing or grammatical errors in the speech, they would make these too.And I’m always reminded about the silly example (and I believe it is not a joke) of a politician in South African who had to speak and later unveil a plaque.He dutifully read his speech from start to finish and when he came to the conclusion, his speechwriter had bracketed an instruction for him to now ‘pull the cord’.Rather than pull the cord to unveil the plaque, the politician had simply read this instruction aloud, while aides were frantically gesticulating for him to do what the occasion demanded of him! More often than not, when a politician is required to speak at a workshop or opening of some sort, the conveners are requested to provide a written speech for them.It is rare to find those who write it themselves, or instruct their speechwriters to incorporate certain points that are considered important by the speakers themselves.Often there is little to no understanding on their own part of what they’re reading aloud to an audience battling to keep awake.One night this week, I saw only one person speaking ‘off the cuff’ as we say.He was well down in the running order of the news, but Ralph Blaauw of the National Youth Council actually spoke his own words, and it made an immediate difference to the viewer, because one immediately gained the impression that he had an interest in what he was talking about.Another exception was Minister John Pandeni, who does get impassioned, although it is often difficult to understand his delivery.He was preceded by a couple of Ministers who were deadly boring in delivering their litanies, but who, ironically, would probably at some stage or another, complain that they had not been reported verbatim! God forbid that we should do that.While the role of the media is diverse and almost all-encompassing, according to Information and Broadcasting Minister Netumbo Ndaitwah, I’m sure putting people to sleep is not one of our tasks! And it is not as if we lack issues in this country.They are too many to mention.There are things, from HIV-AIDS to crime to rape to corruption, that should engender some passion on the part of people who are supposedly the experts in these areas.Even if they cannot generate any charisma, they could surely be quietly authoritative in what they say.The unfortunate thing is that it tells us, at the end of the day, that they’re not really confident talking about the subjects they speak on and are not well-versed in the fields in which they are employed.We do need to hear people who know their stuff, so to speak, because they can not only make a
difference, but they can change things and people’s attitudes too.

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