Saturday 17 April 2021
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Namibia’s search for new glory

The death of national hero Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab has once again given us a moment to pause and to critically look how far we have come as a nation.
As the tributes pour in and various segments of the society remember Gurirab, one quickly notes how much of the liberation struggle credentials of the Swapo-led government remains amongst a limited list of accomplishments.
28 years later and this government cannot list achievements without mentioning the liberation struggle. For a country that has grown so much rhetorically but so little in reality, any achievement no matter how small should be embraced.
The provision of basic services ought to be the lived experience of every citizen as we were reminded in 2003 by late Theo Ben Gurirab in his capacity as Prime Minister on the African Day of Civil Servants “We can only ensure reasonable access to public facilities and services if we embrace and fully comply with the principles of good governance and transparent decision making.”
We do not have to go far, just look at how we celebrate the construction of classrooms, community toilets and clinics despite the fact that education, sanitation and health services must not be a luxury for the populace but rather a given!
Our people tend to celebrate mediocracy nowadays because the little they are entitled to has become a distant dream.
Gurirab’s death allows us an opportunity to reflect as to how far we have come after 28 years. A lot has been done, but when you compare what we achieved since Independence and weigh it against what we still need to do to reach our self-initiated Vision 2030 goals, one can safely say that little has been done after independence.
Living in denial has destroyed many nations simply because governments tend to sugar-coat the actual realities.
I am saying little has been done since independence, because if you take away the infrastructure that was there on 21 March 1990 when the Swapo government took over, you can see that not much has been done.
Nobody is perfect, but we cannot deny the fact that Gurirab was one of the few politicians whose reputation is not tainted by scandals. If our current crop of leaders were to stand on the podium to be rewarded for their good work, very few would obtain scores worthy of a medal.
The late Gurirab, a diplomat of note, has displayed quality leadership traits that all leaders should seek to emulate.
As our first Minister of Foreign Affairs and having represented Namibia internationally prior to 1990, Namibia’s standing within the international community is largely attributed to his diplomatic acumen.
Namibia continues to enjoy cordial relations with most of the 192 UN member states and its ability to steer clear of international fights shows the country’s ability to engage diplomatically instead of running for the gun.
Gurirab might have been part of government since its inception, but his roles were not those that dealt directly with the people on the ground.
He was one of the few leaders in our spectrum that had time for every citizen and surely one of the most approachable top officials. After all, diplomacy is about engaging and being open to divergent views, an attribute most of our leaders lack.
It is still my view that the lack of development in Namibia is due to the fact that our leaders want to be served instead of serving.
It is high time that those who hold public office take note that their presence in such offices does not mean they are best suited to occupy the positions they find themselves in. There are equally-capable Namibians who can occupy similar roles, but due to time and limited positions not everyone can be public office bearers.
Some of our politicians hold those positions because of political favors, not necessary their competency, hence I say it is high time our leaders sweat for those who put them in power.
Heroes such as the late Gurirab has laid the foundation for the new generation of leaders to emulate. Those who were in the struggle can boast that they died for this country, what can the post-Independence breed of leaders boast about?
As the nation pauses to lay to rest the son of the soil tomorrow, we are hopeful that his teachings and the footprints he left will not be filled with sand from the blowing winds, but rather with shoes of leaders worthy to walk the road he walked.

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