2011 – Nation’s Year of Coming of Age

Christof Maletsky, 7 January 2011 (Source: Allafrica)

WE are already seven days into a very significant year for Namibia’s Independence – the year in which we will celebrate 21years of Independence and hopefully get rid of the epic political buffoonery and other negatives that preoccupied our minds recently.

Celebrating 21 years is synonymous with maturity and becoming an adult. In some cultures and societies a child who reaches that age receives keys from their parents. Such keys signify the opening of new doors and also the transfer of responsibility from the parents to such children. In most cases the gifts given to the maturing children are of much higher value than the normal birthday gifts. The well-off parents might even give a child a key to a flat or for a car. The most significant key, however, is the one given to a child to unlock his or her own new opportunities in life.

With Namibia set to celebrate its 21st Independence anniversary this year, our democracy should be maturing to the next level. We should see a democracy in which political campaigning will be peaceful and elections transparent, among others.

Compared to some other states Namibia has done well since Independence but our yardstick should always be the countries above us. Those are countries known for the integrity, accountability and transparency of leaders they produce year-in and year-out. Such leaders practice zero tolerance for poor performance, corruption, factionalism, patronage and promote unity in action. While we are known to be a model of democracy among African states, corruption and cronyism have reached levels that have started systematically eroding the few gains we made.

Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula delivered remarks and individually welcomed the new Peace Corps volunteers to the Sub-Saharan African nation.
Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula delivered remarks and individually welcomed the new Peace Corps volunteers to the Sub-Saharan African nation.

Albert Einstein once said: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”. Our problem is the way we see problems. In the majority of cases we politicise things such as the high rate of unemployment, crime, lack of housing and what should normally be a mature debate for solutions to such issues end up being trashed. This year we need to realise that there can be no fudging about the bread-and-butter issues. You win or you don’t; you have work or you don’t; there is an abnormally high level of murders or there isn’t.

For such problem-solving we need a new and deeper level of thinking across the board – whether Government or private sector, in Parliament or at traditional level, in the capital city or at a village.

Workshops and trips for the sake of subsistence and travel (S&T) allowances must stop. Instead, we need to work the problems with the affected people and shop for the right answers at their level. Quick fixes have proven costly in the past. That is why a few toilets in a rural area like Omusati were built for N$20 million! And let’s get rid of disposable comrades. These are the corrupt and those whose sell-by dates have passed. Let our year of coming of age be marked by maturity.

For that to happen a lot depends on an enlightened leadership who are ready to take the bull by the horns. Leaders must be ready to get their hands dirty rather than seek sanctuary in their air-conditioned offices. There is no better time than 21 years to come of age, and it only comes around once!