Dear Editor, allow me to pen down a brief analysis on the ethics of power, based on the recent ousting of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. He is gone, but the ideologies that led to a ‘Mugabe State’ continue to live on.
African leaders who participated in the early resistance movements against colonialism, all appealed to self-determination and self-governance or liberation as the aim. However, how have these dreams for liberty and self-governance turnout – after we got rid of the White oppressors? How did we come to this new state of servitude – a post-liberation thraldom?
Since independence, nearly all African states have experienced the proliferation of mal-governance, deteriorating socio-economic, hopelessness, disenfranchisement etc.
How did men and women who were once upon a time ready to be martyrs for the freedom of their people turn out to be these kinds of oppressors?
Dr. Gerard Kreijen believes that the problem with the failed states experienced in Sub-Saharan Africa is due to lack of appropriate transition from effective revolution to functioning within legal frameworks, as required of a democratic state.
But this view fails to deal with the fundamental issue and places the blame on failed system adaptations. I tend to think that the kind of repression Africans have experienced is primarily because of moral failure.
Failure to adapt from one system to another does not adequately account for the abuse of state resources, denial of fundamental freedoms and desecration of human dignity. The absence of a moral compass explains why our heroes have gone rogue with unprecedented abuse forged for no one else but their own people.
Could it be that our political leaders desired the benefits of power but had very little introspection of the accountability and ethical use that comes with it? Would we have witnessed a thriving Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola etc had there been a better understanding of the ethics of power among African leaders?
It is easy to point at Mugabe, Dos Santos and others, but what about Namibia? We display almost every symptom of a failed and failing state since our own African leaders took up power; today, such that the ordinary person has been reduced to levels of humiliating poverty, unemployment and other dehumanising conditions. We are in a state that is governed by many who do not have a grasp of the ethics of power, thus, the new form of socio-economic enslavement.
Immediately after independence, we witnessed a catalysed widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Leading, were those who came to power and joined the wealthy class in a matter of years.
With this background, Namibia has not done any better than the countries that have clearly been under authoritarian rule e.g. Zimbabwe. Our levels of poverty and general economic enslavement are ever deepening just like those of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or Dos Santo’s Angola.
We have to admit to the glaring absence of ethics of power by our political leaders, who have used their power to enrich themselves by thieving without consequences. This state of affairs shows we have literary accentuated the characteristics of the Apartheid regime that sought to enrich a few at the expense of many. Thus, our leaders created a new apartheid, a socio-economic apartheid. Making them people who are out of apartheid but apartheid is not out of them.
It is time we moved away from the ‘Whiteman blame’ speeches and hold the ‘Blackman in Office’ accountable for the mess majority of people are experiencing. We have ourselves to blame and stop referring to the German colonial and Apartheid era as the reason many are poor. It’s not the German or Apartheid administrations which have been dishing out state resources to unproductive projects; they didn’t fail to bring to book the theft of billions of dollars of state own enterprises; they are not the ones building monuments instead of providing decent housing and education to our citizens etc.
As Namibians, in as much as we may enjoy a number of privileges, we live in an independence that has miserably failed to liberate the people. The little glimpses we have seen under the leadership of our own ‘Black Brothers and Sister’ is but colonialism dressed in a homemade attire.
While we do have a change of persons who hold the office, we have not had a conceptual shift and the same ideologies, which fostered apartheid, are being used to construct a new economic apartheid. Moreover, as long as we are not ready to face the reality of this post-liberation thraldom and work towards addressing change, we will see the ever-widening gap of poverty, unemployment, social disenfranchisement, and general hopelessness. (To be continued…)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are in my private capacity, based on Article 21 of the Namibian constitution, granting freedom of speech and expression. They are not views of my employer IUM or its affiliates.