12 EDITORIAL Friday, February 24 2017 | NEW ERA n the youth’s outright hooliganism Since its formation in 1969 the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has been a vital and influential part of the ruling party Swapo. The league has been home to some men and women of great stature and intellectual giants with impregnable leadership acumen and credentials. Apart from it being the conveyor belt of Swapo’s ideologies, policies and programmes, the SPYL has also been the grooming school of future leaders for both the ruling party and country. The league famously groomed the likes of Jerry Ekandjo, Pohamba Shifeta, Kazenambo Kazenambo and Charles Namoloh who all served or are still serving as Cabinet ministers in our country. It also served as an incubator for several current and former deputy ministers, diplomats and other leaders in government and the private sector. The current SPYL – whose leaders traded punches last weekend because they seemingly could not differ maturely – bears no resemblance to the one that produced the leaders earlier mentioned. Factional tendencies have reached worrying proportions such that the Swapo headquarters, a sacred place in political circles, was turned into a turf for physical assaults. We neither support the physical act, nor the verbal attacks that seemingly prompted it. Even its detractors would, perhaps in whispers, agree that the SPYL occupies an important space in Namibia’s political history. Whatever the league does or says leaves an indelible mark. Unfortunately, the weekend’s incident too would form part of the history of this once respected body. The physical scuffle is a far cry from what the SPYL was and is meant to be. The fight is an indictment of the league’s sad current state and goes a long way to show the lack of organisational and leadership discipline within the youth organisation today. For the constituency that the SPYL represents – the Namibian youth – it is simply difficult to listen to leaders who cannot handle their differences maturely and with verbal conviction. Yet the SPYL has been a vehicle for Swapo to reach out to young people in this country, who in fact form the majority of the populace. What happened to the SPYL that manufactured leaders of high intellectual capacity, vision and good leadership skills? What happened to the SPYL that debated issues and not personalities? Even in its heyday as a militant body, the SPYL never had highprofile incidents of physical confrontations. The Swapo leaders have often tried to let the league handle its own affairs without interference, but this episode could be used by some rogue elements in the mother body to interfere and use the league to pursue their own parochial interests. The current SPYL lives in a better era. More of its members have tasted education, freedom and democracy. The league also has better resources today than it did during its formative years in Tanzania. This exposure, and resources, should have naturally armed the current crop with better leadership and other skills, including the know-how of having an educated conversation even when there is a clash of perspectives. With all these advantages, the SPYL ought to navigate its way around issues and not let it become a shadow of what it used to be. The SPYL’s glory days should be today, not yesteryears. Namibia must benefit from China’s football revolution China is Namibia’s best friend. Since gaining power in 2012 Chinese President Xi Jinping has made reforming Chinese football one of his top priorities. In fact we have seen world-class footballers moving to China in recent months – a sign of the rising power of Chinese football. The bigger plan is to make China one of the world’s top football nations by 2050. The Chinese government is even encouraging more state and private investment with the vision to double the size of the Chinese sporting economy by 2025 unlike us here in Namibia who want to reverse sports. However, Chinese leaders have always been strategists from Sun Tzu to Chairman Mao and now Xi Jinping. Every previous and current Chinese leader had/have a vision of clear objectives for their own people at the point of taking charge. Coming back to China and Namibia’s healthy and steady relationship which can be confirmed by the establishment of diplomatic relations on March 22, 1990, just one day after Namibia gained its independence, surely the majority of Namibians are yet to enjoy maximum benefits from this friendship apart from those few selected children of top government officials who got Chinese sponsored bursaries to study in China a few years ago. Maybe now our beef has finally found its way onto the Chinese retail shelves, but still we have just given the Chinese every dollar we had in our kitty. Our procurement system has over the past 26 years given almost every tender to the Chinese. Awarding of tenders came to a halt last year and now some Chinese friends have turned to our wildlife. Now we mainly see our friends from the East on TV and in newspapers almost every month when they appear in our courts Indileni Set Sam Iipinge on wildlife related and other criminal cases. However this author read in the media recently that our president, H.E. Dr Hage G. Geingob, is a big fan of football. It is hence this author and maybe other Namibians’ dream too that with the facilitation of our new ambassador to China Dr Elia Kaiyamo we will have as many Namibian footballers playing soccer in the Chinese Super League as possible, joining big stars like Carlos Teves, Oscar, Ramirez, Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and of recent 2017 Afcon best player Cameroon’s winger Christian Bassogog. Namibians would surely want to see Benyamin Nenkavu, Deon Hotto, Absalom Iimbondi, Petrus Shitembi, Oswaldo Xamseb and many others playing football and earning big money there in Beijing, so that Namibia gets some sort of refund of our billions of dollars that went to China through tenders. This author even suggests that for every tender our procurement tender boards will from now on award to a Chinese firm, 10 Namibian footballers must jet off to Beijing. And for every wildlife or tax evasion criminal case reported involving a Chinese national, let 20 Namibian footballers fly to China. Let the aim be to have 100 players playing football in the Chinese Super League by 2020. And If Namibians’ memories remind them well, former Namibian soccer star Eliphas ‘Safile’ Shivute was the first and probably the last son of the soil to have landed a lucrative deal with Shengzen Football Club in the Chinese premier league in the late 90s. So this author believes that it is in every Namibian’s interest to have Namibia and China continue to enjoy a good, more healthier bilateral relationship. Indeed a genuine bilateral relationship and having the same number of Namibians in China as we have Chinese in Namibia is very much possible in our lifetime, but even more possible in the Harambee era. So dear advisors in the Namibian Presidency who are reading this opinion piece, please do the right thing and pass this on to our president and also to the Namibian ambassador to China. Indileni Set Sam Iipinge Swartbooi should show emotional intelligence The constitution of Namibia is founded on the values of nontribalism and frankly speaking the former deputy minister of land reform Bernadus Swartbooi has fallen short of upholding those values. The arrogant stance of Swartbooi just illustrates how far separated he is from the grass roots. That is not what Namibians want to hear. What he said does not abide well for unity in diversity and it’s not a very responsible way of handling political differences within the same party. By calling a fellow minister an idiot Swartbooi missed out on a good opportunity to challenge him on solid grounds. This is showing an inability to debate, lack of diplomacy and lack of leadership. It is not just the constitution but also the rules of parliament and how people should engage in that august house. In a society with young people who look up to their elders for good examples it is important, particularly for parliamentarians, to be very circumspect about how they speak. It’s absolutely disappointing that in Namibia, 27 years into independence, we have this kind of conversation. Parliament really needs to reflect on how it wants to be an institution of public representation, because if this is the kind of public representation that they do then they are undermining the very values that they have sworn to uphold. Fillemon Shikomba
China raises a new sail for global governance Page 15 Synergy needed between Whistle-blower Protection Office, ACC and Ombudsman Page 15 Towards the second republic of Namibia Lee Lockwood, an American photojournalist had untold access to the late leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. His must view book, ‘Le Cuba de Castro: un journalist americain raconte Cuba de l’interieur – 1959- 1969’ provides fascinating pictures of Fidel, his comrades, including a fascinating Ernesto Che Guevara letter of abdication from the Cuban command. Guevara, in the letter, puts it poignantly that his work in Cuba was complete. It is after this point that he progressed to death in the battlefields of Bolivia. But what caught my attention was the term ‘Gusano’, invented by Castro to describe unsatisfied elements in the bourgeoisie who demonstrate counter-revolutionary tendencies. Can the term Gusano, as invented by Fidel, be application to our current moment? What opportunities do this moment offer? Our country is going through a moment of increasing agitation with various sections of our populations correctly dissatisfied with the pace of socio-economic progress. These sections have upped the ante and are lobbying Molotov cocktails at government. In what appears like guerrilla warfare, once the preserve of Swapo during the war for independence, the Gusano of bomb-throwers and ideologues are subverting the formula that has been the hallmark of our democracy. They are questioning, at times chaotically and recklessly, the currency of the consensus on peace and stability as a crucial precondition to deal with our challenges. In the process they are prepared to chaotically ridicule the consensus in advancing their propositions on questions of the genocide, succession, urban and agricultural landlessness. To these issues, mobilising around ethnicity has become the counterintuitive default platform to advance positions. The emergence of the Landless People’s Movement, articulating policy propositions on ancestral land claims through Central-Southern (Herero/Nama) lens is the most recent case in point. Affirmative Repositioning and its core leadership of three, being from the northern parts of our country, cannot be adequately divorced from the ethnic, even if their demands have sufficient young urban appeal and buy-in. What is a common denominator is ideological capacity and occasional clarity, activism with conflict and chaos as potential assets in the advancement of goals. Moreover, the adaptability of these social movements and their deliberate single-issue emphasis have made government responses with their usual macro and micro constraints insufficient, if not wholly inadequate. These insufficiencies have over time also been accentuated by bureaucratic inefficiencies and corruption. Specifically, for the current administration options are limited in the absence of discretionary funds and spending at this exceptional economic conjuncture. We, the Gusano, have also installed a certain permanent politics of succession in the ruling party. We discuss succession even when there is no vacancy. We do so, knowing or not knowing that the permanence of succession deviates attention from our developmental objectives. Marcel Proust, a French writer, would say that when time is lost, it cannot be found. This is true for the lives of individuals. But it is also true for the life of our republic, which in a few days will celebrate 27 years of freedom. Without doubt, we have lost precious miles and time in realising a better life for the masses of our people. Opportunities have been lost and time wasted. We did not initiate ambitious reforms during boom times when the economy was growing at appropriate levels. It would have allowed us to make Namibia more competitive, creating more jobs and promoting savings. It is not normal that Rwanda, a country that emerged from a ghastly genocide 22 years ago, is over 30 times more competitive than Namibia in global competitiveness indicators! Still, even at this moment of times lost and many socioeconomic fractures we should agree with President Hage Geingob when he emphasises the progress that we have made over the past 27 years. We should agree when he puts emphasis on peace and stability as preconditions for progress. It is a credo we should adhere to. We should also agree with his promise that he would deliver on prosperity for Namibians through his Harambee Prosperity Plan. We can discuss robustly the details. But there is a crucial question of method. Policymakers and bureaucrats should engage and persuade those we might want to classify as ‘misfits’ and ‘disruptors’, including within our ranks. We should question their assumptions with well-researched propositions. In that endeavour, the reality should dawn upon us that we (misfits, Gusano and disruptors) could represent issue-based sections – but not the people. The 87% overwhelming presidential mandate through the verdict of the polls two years ago is a core foundation of the social contract between the masses of our people and their President. Only the elected President can legitimately claim to embody the masses of our people. We, the unelected Gusano, can assume our differences and mark them on the wall – even in a superior fashion. We can be as mad as hell - but we cannot break that contract between the President and the people outside the electoral cycle. This is an explicit landmark in our constitutional democracy. Yet, this does not imply that the President should not listen carefully to the general commentary. He should. I think that the President has been big-hearted. And I worry that he has not been sufficiently hard-headed, including with his colleagues in the ruling party and government. But the promise of prosperity would demand that he is more hard-headed than big-hearted. Can it be done under the current republic? It is worth noting that the exercise of power requires a lot of reflection and solitude. It is crucial at this moment for such reflections to lead to what the President had promised as the qualitatively new: prosperity for Namibians. It will be difficult if not impossible to realize our national aspirations with the current trajectory under our first republic. I have laboured the point about the dangers of de-focalizing issues outside the realms of our political institutions with unelected Gusano leading policy. To deal with this danger might require more parliamentary activism, a societal aggiornamento, including deep reforms of our political system. Those of us who are on the streets can provide commentary – but it is not we who should govern. Government should. But to lead for the future might require that we reflect collectively about the opportunity of a second republic. * Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne. The disgrace of the youth and body politik The article in The Namibian of the 22nd February 2017 of the fist fight between SPYL members cannot exit unnoticed. I am a subject of a country that claimed once to have been the pride of the continent, greedily calling itself the smile of Africa. I am part of the subjects who at the sunrise of the year 1990 paraded their getting, to Africa and the rest of the world, broadcasting that Africans too can measure themselves against the subjects of the world. As a youth I watched debates between Maxuilili, Riruako, Hannes Smith and Gwen Lister or Nora Chase on Talk of the Nation. Maxuilili would start the labelling, with the paramount chief or Smith retaliating with own outburst to the excitement or amusement of the watcher. You would be pasted to the screen, waiting to see the one panellist lurching at the throat of the other panellist. Yours truly is yet to bring to mind any memories of a physical fight, especially at a time when we emerged from an unfriendly and patchy past. Those citizens of my motherland differed but never traded blows, but rather raged at one another by mouth. Their insults and difference of opinion or skewed resource allotment always culminated on a trade of friendly hands at the end of the heated debate. I refuse to embrace a culture where political differences are best solved with physical intellect, for I have seen the scars of such interface on the face of my continent for too long. The interface continues to be visible on the face of those subjects, who outlived their peers against the laws of nature. We are called upon never to allow our pride, tribally fuelled egos or reception of the other’s opinion or cry of exclusion and inclusion to degenerate into the politics of chaos and shame. I dare state that not even the infamous meeting at the then community hall in 1988 that led to the emergence of NASEM degenerated into a physical altercation. Our actions of today are a reflection of our failure as a distinct group to illuminate the path of reasoning, dialectic materialism amongst ourselves, despite the emergence of the Swapo Party School, whose original aim was to mould cadres into serious leaders of broader perspective, alternatively our resolve to start afresh at the adoption of the social contract (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) in 1990, which calls upon us to express for ourselves and our children our resolve to cherish and to protect the gains of our long struggle, desire to promote amongst all of us the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Namibian nation and among and in association with the [rest] of the world; [striving] to achieve national reconciliation and to foster peace, unity and a common loyalty to a single state [in pursuit of] a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary state securing to all our citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity (Preamble to the Namibian Constitution, made bold for own emphasis). Our youth cannot and should not engage one another on a level other than to convince one another. The elders too should not call the impatient branch of our society, the youth, derogatory names and terms, or both groups to regard themselves as two poles. We are called upon to exercise restraint when referring to the other self or one another. It is a fact that the other self is a reflection of what we once were and what we ought to become in the future. The elders ought to realise that they were once youth, and the youth to realise that natural justice dictates that they too will progress into adulthood. We have but inherited this country from the future generation. (Obama) Our rise might not be equivalent, but surely our fall will be, for we all are leaves of the same baobab tree. I refuse to accept the unwritten rule that all African countries should follow the same path, self-destruct. I remain an optimistic optimist that out of the current deafening noise, where the self seeks to define and find itself, my country will emerge sturdy and resolute. Whatever our analysis, we took a country from the colonisers, and thus should pass to our children nothing less than a country. Full stop. * Joshua Razikua Kaumbi is a holder of a BA Political Science (Unam), LLB (Stellenbosch) and is a practising admitted attorney. Opinions are expressed in his capacity as a Namibian by birth and not choice.