Former prime minister Nahas Angula says degrading utterances made by leaders such as calling citizens poor is the reason why the general public dislikes politicians.
He said this during the aftermath of public statements made by the Minister of Lands Utoni Nujoma that poor people cannot be given farms.
Nujoma’s widely-criticised remarks came 31 years after his father, Sam Nujoma, told a crowd that there will be no poor people in Namibia under the Swapo government.
At that meeting, Nujoma senior promised that under Swapo’s land reform programme every Namibian will own a piece of land. This promise never materialized.
Angula said politicians have over time grown out of touch with the reality on the ground, adding that Utoni Nujoma’s statement that poor people cannot be given farms is an indirect admission from government that it has failed to empower and lift Namibians out of poverty.
“I do know where it came from to try and distinguish between poor and rich, especially at that level,” he said.
Angula said there is need for introspection to determine where politicians went astray when it comes to putting the needs of the people at the forefront.
He added that instead of adopting a pure entrepreneurial and production class, government ended up with a comprador political class which feeds on the public resources.
“That is the dilemma we have. That is why you see the citizens hate politicians so much, simply because politicians do not deliver as expected. When we started after independence, we built infrastructure to ensure that basic services such as health, education and water is provided and that people were happy with the progress, but along the way things changed and we started becoming individualistic which hampers productivity,” he explained.
“This thing of using resources as you please just because you have access to them is creating the hatred you are seeing. We[politicians] seem to be drifting further away from the ordinary people,” he said.
The liberation struggle
Angula also took issue with Nujoma’s claim that Swapo Party’s military Wing, PLAN, did not win the war and instead opted for compromises because they were tired of the war.
“That was the compromise in order to give Namibia its independence. That was the resolution, the pressure came through the western contact groups, they had significant interests here, they wanted to protect their interests and as freedom fighters we were also tired of staying in the bush, it’s better to fight from inside rather than from outside.
That is the strategy we adopted, to say let’s go home, negotiate and see what we can do in the process. As I said, we never compromised, there were no other alternatives, we were fighting the western countries who had sophisticated arms, technology and we were just freedom fighters carrying a gun on our backs,” said Nujoma.
Angula retorted by saying,“I do not know where he got that nonsense. I realise my colleagues are not politically conscious.
It is very unfortunate
Yes, we got our independence under difficult conditions and yes it was a compromise, not because people were tired, but due to the fact that the world was changing,” he said.
Angula added: “The world was changing, the Soviet Union that supplied us with weapons was collapsing, the international situation was changing so fast.
I remember meeting a diplomat from Soviet Union at Mount Etjo negotiations in 1989, this meeting was called when the ceasefire broke down, many of my senior leaders were not there and he [the diplomat] was cautioning us[Swapo] to be careful because the situation was changing fast and we will not have support from anyone, it was not a thing of being tired but rather political evolution.”
“There were many forces at play who were putting pressure on us to find a solution.
I really do not known where Utoni got his interpretation because many of us were born poor and many of our relatives are poor,” concluded a perplexed Angula.