Monday 14 June 2021
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Critical thinking in a world of patronage

Mathias Haufiku

Politics, or African politics for that matter, has been laden with patronage in recent times, so much so that critical thinkers have been moved to the back of the room at the expense of patronage seekers. Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In today’s world patronage has been used as a tool to silence independent thinkers, be it in the economic or political sphere. Such is the state of affairs on the continent that we remain in a state of wonder why real growth continually avert the continent. The political system on the continent has degenerated to such an extent that critical thinkers have developed cold feet when it comes to expressing their views on issues crippling society. Patronage is the order of the day, be it while job hunting or any political appointment, gone are the days when merit and real ability to do the job did the trick. Sad as it may be, society is slowly but surely making peace with the notion “it is not what you know but who you know”.

As much as those running the political and economic systems attempt to hide patronage acts, it is there for everyone to see that even those who were once deemed honest have been swallowed by the wave of patronage. Together with power and politics, patronage continues to silence those who harbor dissenting views, a situation which gives credence to the fact that we are slowly becoming a continent that thinks with our stomachs instead of our brains. Be it in the ruling or opposition party, members know all too well that questioning the authority is the quickest way to exit the door. Patronage has caused a lot of our revered academics in Namibia their credibility, in fact, some have gone into hiding to avoid being asked to comment state affairs. Blind loyalty has also featured prominently in our political discourse in recent years, so much so that people are prepared to put their heads on a chopping block to defend something that is wrong-all in the hope of being seen as a loyalist and to be considered when the next round of appointments comes along. In a group you will always find who will be afraid to stand up against the truth, even though deep down it hurts them to know that they are suppressing the truth.

Recently Swapo heavyweight Marco Hausiku spoke against blind loyalty in the party saying there is a tendency of supporting individuals within the party instead of the organization as a whole. Hausiku said “You can be loyal to the party without worshipping leaders, but because we have a wrong perception we think it is not possible. I do not want anyone to be loyal to me, but we have been mad to believe that when we talk loyalty it is about worshipping leaders.” He also said debates about individuals instead of debates around issues have taken centre stage in the party. Hausiku’s sentiments are not only common in political setups, even in the corporate world such trends have begun to feature prominently. Every now and then you hear of boardroom fights where officials are isolated for airing their views, what ever happened to appreciating divergent views?

As I end of this editorial, I must make it clear that politicians who choose to suppress their conscious by refusing to speak against the ill-timed plans to construct a new parliament amidst the myriad of challenges in the country will be called to order on judgment day. A huge section of the public has made it clear that the construction of a new parliament is a welcomed idea, but not at this point in time. But since most politicians have preferred to support the construction of the parliament blindly, the electorate needs to make peace with the fact that the power they enjoyed at the polls in 2014 will only return in 2019.

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