Friday 18 June 2021
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Projectification: A Leadership That Can No Longer Lead

Have we understood the difference between managing of projects and managing of a country? It is quite disheartening watching an entire country being governed as if it were a special project of those in govern-ment. We are not a failed state but experience seems to clearly we have people in leadership that can no longer leader.
We are faced with the problem of what I term projectification. Projec-tification is not a formal or standard dictionary term but I use it to explain the rampant action of degrading someone or something to the status of a mere project and without considerations of the human elements affected. It’s an action that represents defunct and irrelevant leadership practices or in worse cases a failed state.
Those endowed with the power to govern think of their terms as emergency projects, such that all their plans are merely hand-to-mouth. For example, instead of exercising rigorous austerity to invest in things that really matters, state resources are used to advance opulent display of gov-ernment officials. Exhibit p, few weeks ago, a local artist sought to sensi-tise the nation to the realities of the socio-economic sufferings and that the few state resources should rather be redirected to address these issues. In his call, he suggested, we disband the Independence Day celebration for 2018.
Misinterpreting the call of the artist, the Head of State, thought this was a call to a national cleaning up day. Well, the cleaning up was but part of his suggestion. The plans for the Independence Day went on, millions were spent and then the president suggested that we find a day for nation-al cleaning up campaign. The issue wasn’t the cleaning, but to commit to austerity measures that will channel the resources to benefit the nation and not create another hand-to-mouth project (of which the Independence Day is).
Because of this project-like approach to leadership we have only witnessed wilful obscurantism and timid commitment to national develop-ment. All motivate by selfish intentions of self-gratification and wasteful-ness. When our leaders need to take serious measures to address disturb-ing national issues, is when we realise that all structures meant to function are defective. Out of panic, we have seen the ever increase in government administration – many of them aimed at addressing the same issues but without success.
The current administration was founded on the rhetorics of political renovation, accountability, nation-building and social progress. Unfortu-nately, all these concepts were being circulated amongst the same groups of persons who have been accustomed to the projectification of state enti-ties and public offices. Majority of them have turned the whole public ad-ministration into a personal project and what we have witness thus far is a mobilisation of resources to fund and sustain inefficiency and waste.
How do you explain that in a country with 2.5 million people, over 60 000 of its university graduates are unemployed and unskilled although the-oretically qualified. Obvious, when resources should have been set aside to develop the nations capacity, they have been used to construct elabo-rate buildings, pay subsistence and traveling costs of government officials, foot the luxury vehicles fleets, pay for the ballooning ineffective number of parliamentarians etc. The project in this case is obvious, in the words of Michela Wrong ‘It’s Our Time to Eat.’
This attitude to run the country as if it were a political party’s project is the very cause for the ever increasing administrative corruption, ineffi-ciency in government and state owned enterprises, and large scale waste-fulness. All these are social immoralities that undermine the humanness of the population and the aspirations of the most disadvantaged persons of our society.
Prof. Goulet said, ‘If they are to safeguard their dignity as human be-ing and keep their liberty, people must know how to free themselves from excessive attachment to superfluous goods.’ In a country where the State controls the economic and social structures, this is what our leaders need to do. A government that is hell-bend at eating will eventually eat its own people, after all, they do not represent any economic value to benefit the eating project. And projectifying people is a symbolic form of eating them because, eventually they account for no significant value except as pawns for display.
What is needed for the Namibian context is leadership that will take its task of leading serious. The current public leadership will only gain the respect of the public if it invests itself in the lives of the people and work towards meaningfully improving their socio-economic conditions. What needs to happen is a significant improvement to the misery of many and lead to decent sufficiency of access to life enhancing goods.
Finally, much of the current state of leadership only resembles a leadership that can no longer lead. It has failed in its mandate and oper-ates on the whims of the moment. We have to come to a point of honest self-evaluation and ask many of our present leaders to step out of public office as they do not have the interest of the public at heart. We have a great country, beautiful in every way, but we cannot express this beauty with pride without a leadership that would enhance us to embrace our-selves and pursue our destiny in dignity.
Disclaimer: the views expressed in this article are in my personal capacity and do not reflect or represent IUM or its associates.

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