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Monday 22 April 2019
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The paradox around Swartbooi’s remarks

Deputy lands minister Bernadus might not have chosen the wisest of words to advocate for the citizens in southern Namibia, but the harsh reality is that the side-lining of groups considered to be in the minority has the potential to cause friction in the country just as much as his remarks is described as ones that harbour tribal undertones.
 
The greatest leaders in the world since time immemorial will tell you that leadership is no small feat. It is not for the fainthearted and more often than not, you will wonder whether it is really worth it.
 
The reason why you will wonder is because it is a thankless job, one with many spectators and commentators often uninvited. But it remains a lofty calling. One that allows you countless privileges in spite of the equal number of sacrifices you have to continue to make.
 
It is a job for people of enormous courage and convenience and comfort are strange concepts for a true leader. And so I ponder on a week of public outbursts, tribal lines strengthened and an apology demanded which remains hitherto unanswered. All of these point to issues of character.
 
If you are not sure what I am referring to – I am referring to the Clinton Swartbooi battle cry. A cry about resettlement for his people – in this case the people of the south, the Nama. A national leader who chooses to address the most serious challenge in the country with an emotional outburst while he holds power as a national leader. A national leader who shares office space with the person he attacks no more than 5 feet away ? A national leader who fails to utilise the corridors of power to engage a matter of great national importance. And so Namibians join the conversation with preconceived notions and suddenly people find themselves behind battle lines drawn in the sand. And the essence falls to the wayside.
 
What is the essence in my view? The essence is we have a national leader who speaks on the matter of resettlement not on principle but on patriarchy.
 
Namibians waged a long and bitter struggle for key freedoms. Article 21 under the heading of Fundamental Freedoms state “ g) All persons shall have the right to move throughout Namibia and h) reside and settle in any part of Namibia.
 
Now, a national leader who swore to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia who is empowered as a national leader, tasked with the responsibility to address key national development objectives herald a call that Namas should remain in apartheid era styled homelands and that the Aawambo people should be limited in the freedom to move. Where is one Namibia, one nation ? And how enduring is that solution with years of intermarriage in Namibia ? If the Basters were to do it, would the rest just accept it ?
 
Leadership comes with responsibilities that may challenge your personal comforts. Humble yourself as a younger man and walk over to your Comrades office and discuss resettlement in the interest of all Namibians, not just the Namas. Speak for all the excluded, the poor and the marginalised and not just those with whom you share ancestry.



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