Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Namibia, A Leadership Crisis

Allow me space to comment on our current public condition. I read something last week that ‘Leaders who won’t listen, will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.’ Our leadership failure especially as displayed in our government, is by any definition reaching a new low.
What we’re witnessing is a maturation of a culture of poor governance and leadership. That which we were hiding is showing its ugly head from every sector of government. We’re in a leadership crisis.
The effects of this leadership crisis are seen in our crumbling economy, deteriorating public health care system, failing education system, corruption without consequences, staggering youth unemployment, politics of the stomach etc. Now, the average public servant is but a paid decoration, who runs his/her private errands during work hours, because for the most part, the supervisors are on holiday.
Government spends so much time ‘wanting’ to deal with absenteeism, corruption, theft etc, but these are symptoms of a much bigger and fundamental problem – bad leadership. Policies are never executed but constantly replaced by new ones; those responsible for certain projects are moved to new ones when they’ve messed up in the other; a non-performing minister is moved to another ministry; lazy national assembly members appointed as ambassadors; ministers accused of mismanagement, theft and corruption are left to continue serving in their positions etc. Not to mention that we ‘lease-sold’ a Russian citizen a couple of farms, as we witnessed the president and the prime minister being reduced to micromanage – as unreasonable as it is.
In my recently ended annual research residence, I had the opportunity of interacting with fellow African candidates. I was saddened by how many of them were accustomed to receiving poor service delivery, such that they didn’t expect anything better in a public service. This is what happens when the public is quiet about issues that are damaging to its dignity. It will be a shame for any sensible and honest Namibian to see the current state of things and continue praising government for a job well-done.
Look at our parliamentary discussions, it’s the most pathetic thing to sit and watch in Southern Africa, if not in the world. Most parliamentary discussions have no life, no vision, not intellectual discourse, nothing to stimulate the public to think and debate about and it don’t encourage open debate.
Such conceptual poverty in the very chambers of national decision making and we expect excellency to come from such. The opposition party is heard but not listened to (although with their song of blam-politics), majority vote is the only functional theory in those seats. Are we being governed by men and women who have nothing useful to say except seat and agree with their comrades on speeches written by their secretaries?
Leadership isn’t a showmanship, eventually reality begins to kick in. The public will expect you to deliver the services that you promised. Sadly, for many in these positions of leadership has nothing to do with competence but loyalty. Such cannot be referred to as leaders, this defines part of the crisis. Could this be the effect of direct representation? Instead of leaders who are accountable to the voters, they are accountable to the president, who is accountable to no one.
The single most powerful person in this country, the president, should be called on to lead. I’m not sure if Tate Geingob is aware that his person is synonymous for Namibia’s Prime Minister.
Such is his legacy, which is sadly not manifesting in his presidency. I would like to think that our president has gathered himself a team of advisors who have nothing to say, either they are afraid or because the president doesn’t listen to advice. But as people from the ground, who live ordinary lives, and aren’t shielded from the harsh realities of the effects of his leadership, the president needs to hear this. Sir, your administration has failed and is failing, unless you embark upon a serious turnaround strategy to rescue this nation, we’re headed for disaster.
We can no longer live on party ideologies for the sake of ideologies, the ordinary people aren’t impressed by all these elaborate concepts. What they want to see are strategies that will create employment, enable them to put bread on their table and live in dignity.
What you do as politicians in your debates is of little importance, yet, there’s more dirty politics in practice than the delivery of goods and services. This nation may as well just disintegrate into anarchy with this kind of leadership and it would make no difference in the end.
With all our structures being tested and falling apart, we’ve to raise questions of leadership. We all want a better Namibia, but without a radical change in the leadership, things will continue as they are. Rather than many men and women who have nothing to say or do, we’d rather have a small number of hardworking, honest, visionary, open-minded people be our leaders. Such are like a search for a needle in a haystack. This is a nation, in a leadership crisis and we need to face this reality now rather than seek to politicise it.
It’s nothing personal against the Head of State, these are the voices of the citizens who voted him into power and it’s time to start listening, this country is in a mess.

*Disclaimer: the views expressed in this article are my own views and do not reflects those of his employer or its partners.

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