“When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly large circles around your own desk.” – Gen. Bruce Clarke This year alone has been quite the governance challenge for the incumbent Namibian President. At first glance from the media alone, one would believe Namibia is on the bring of economic, social and political collapse. I am reminded of a life lesson my Father taught his children. The man always insisted we watch ourselves in the public space because what people will ask when they meet us is; Tate goye olye? Wie se kind is jy? Who is your Father? This was leadership one on one because Dad’s task was to then ensure he taught us principles that when we live them out in the public space, he would not be shocked to have them associated with him. So I apply this principle to the Namibian house. The rhetoric at hand is ; who is in charge? This is by no means character assassination, however too much has gone on the wayside of things that should make our good President look at his table closely. Quite unsettling is recent media reports about the President calling the constitution as just “Paper”. The document that has on its pages the Rule of Law of the Nation is but paper in the eyes of the one individual elected for the sole purpose of abiding by it. Whether the statement was said to mean something else and sound less worrisome then it does or whether the media misquoted his excellency and the many other whether possibilities. The fact remains that the constitution is not just a paper that can be edited to increase cabinet or any other elitist shenanigans we witnessed in the past year. It is the governing law of our democracy. It is this same piece of paper that gives our leaders power to make decisions that should benefit us and if we are all to have the same attitude as the incumbent, then I for one am greatly worried about we are headed to as a nation.
As Namibians we cannot afford to have this mind-set , more so take it lightly when it comes from the President himself who’s Doctoral thesis as a matter of fact was on promoting democracy and good governance as central to state formation in Namibia and he dedicated an entire explanatory chapter on the drafting of the Namibian constitution. Where in the introduction of the said chapter, he focused on the constitution as a government limiting tool and suddenly it is but paper? Like what changed his mind so drastically since 2004 at the time of drafting his thesis? Nonetheless It is very clear that the current Hage administration is different from that of Nuuyoma and Pohamba respectively The biggest difference is cabinet disunity. The circus in front of us ranging from education challenges and dramatic Ministers , poor investment decisions and revoked licences that should not have been issued in the first place, to a negative national economic outlook, the unanswered access to affordable land question, shady genocide negotiations, a bloated yet costly cabinet as well as advisor privileges in land allocation inquiries but to mention a few are but cracks in a faulty foundation. Leadership is like the foundation of a house. If the house is falling apart as some local critics maintain then renovating it is useless, lest the foundation is dug up and deepened we are headed for trouble.
Voting was how citizens transferred their power to the current administration and part of our civic duty is to hold government accountable vigorously and it is about time the President takes his cabinet and advisors on a team building excursion of sorts to ensure everyone is on the same page. The solution to a Nations problems is never yet another political party (SWAPO) get together. Then again, the lines between government and SWAPO have always been blurry and perhaps therein lies the leadership challenge.
Rakkel Andreas is currently an MA Development and Governance candidate at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. She holds an MA European and International Studies from Centre International de Formation Européen (CIFE) in Nice-France as well as BA in Media Studies and Political Science from the University of Namibia