Tuesday 18 May 2021
  • :
  • :

Namibia’s Economic Freedom Beyond the White Man

Allow me to be intentionally a bit political in this week’s edition, regarding the issue of economic freedom and social justice.
My purpose of this paper is to argue for the categorical view in defence of human freedom and rights to decent living standards. Twenty-eight years after independence the subject of economic freedom continues to be a core discussion and a burning issue. The various approaches to resolve this have resulted in various affirmative policies, programmes and projects, yet, the gap of wealth disparity continues to widen. To classify the problem of economic disparity hasn’t been an easy task, especially when we pull in the voices from politics and revenge ideologists.
For example, the absence a clear conceptualisation of what our problem is has led to a number of simplistic suggestions and possible solutions. We have literally abandoned our unequally structured economics and boiled it down to land-ownership. While the lack and unjust distribution of it is definitely an issue, the politicised notion of land and poverty, actually serves as a decoy from the real issue. Identifying the land hasn’t been enough, there must be a demonised scapegoat to take the fall for all our socio-economic woes – the White man. Thus, the lack of farming land and the White man are our problems of economics, so expropriate the land and get rid of the White man and we should reach the envisioned economic freedom.
Sadly, many of us have bought into this simplistic analysis but failing to see that the issue of economic disparity is much deeper and complex than a mere Black and White conclusion. There is something missing, something fundamental, which first needs to be addressed and has to become a part of general public thinking. What is withholding us from attaining economic freedom is embedded in our vision for humanity, a general absence of valuing human life and the living conditions in which they find themselves. This lack of a human and humane vision of economics has led to redefining us merely by our material categories and colour of our skins.
This kind of classification does not in anyway help the cause of fighting socio-economic injustice that is deeply entrenched in the structures rather than in colours of our skins or land. Namibia is governed on an economic principle of elitism, its structures are designed to cater only for those who make it or are drawn into certain social structures. Our political negotiations for independence were all linked to allowing a continued structure of elitism – which would include many Black people after independence. Yet, today’s failures to address the economic disparity has been blamed on race relations rather than working towards rectifying the systems that serves as fertile soil advance economic inequality.
While we do not reject our painful history of colonialism and apartheid, today, we cannot blame much of that history – alone. While many White people became economically well off because fo that history, they are not the problem of the poor people. The problem of the poor is an consolidated effort of elite Blacks and White people who continue to benefit from the structures of society. All driven by economic principles of greed, exploitation and hoarding. Our problem lies with the post-independence elite men and women.
Many people talk of the Namibian economy blaming the White people and painting the Black person as the perpetual victim. But such has been the story we are all accustomed to and we fail to see the real problems. First, we are burdened by the poor ethics of governance, management and distribution of public resources. Secondly, we are governed by people who don’t see anything wrong with the current economic system, since they are part of those who control it. Thirdly, do we seriously expect that those who have become part of the structure that has made them rich, will eventually turn around and want that structure to change?
The struggle for economic freedom must be liberated from this obsession with Whiteness and now land. Those who govern this country have a responsibility to ensure that the structures are reset to benefit all Namibians. The artificial scarcity that we have been fed with over the years can no longer be the excuse to use today. Almost every politician received land, decent housing and are living decently. Yet, majority of people are being told that the resources are scarce or they should blame eat White people.
Poor people should start demanding of those who have misgoverned this country, to account for it. We can no longer be victims of scapegoat rhetorics and decorative policies that are collecting dust on the shelves. The struggle for economic freedom has never been about White people but about bread and butter issues and attaining decent living. This fight has been sabotaged by elite Black politicians who did nothing about the unjust structures and used them for their own economic benefits. We’re not in a racial struggle and the Black person’s enemy today isn’t the White man but Black poor governance that has no sense of humanity or future generation but to pillage the system for selfish ends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *