Thursday 17 June 2021
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National liberation movements in Southern Africa and the illusive liberation dividend

Last week, November 21-22, 2018, the SWAPO Party hosted a meeting of Sister Parties in Southern Africa. These ruling Parties are referred in the media as “former Liberation Movements”. This description is mischievous.
If a Party fought for Independence of its country, it remains a Liberation Movement. A Liberation Movement has a historical mission- the mission of liberating the country from foreign domination and its people from social and economic depravity. Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed during the struggle for the independence of Ghana: “…seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto”. This means that political independence is the first victory. The struggle for socio-economic transformation continues.
The Secretary Generals of South Africa’s ANC; Tanzania’ CCM; Angola’s MPLA, Mozambique’s FRELIMO; Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF and the SWAPO Party, reportedly met to reignite the mission and vision of the Sister Parties. They resolved to ensure that the history of the liberation struggle does not go in vain.
The SWAPO Party Secretary General, Madame Sophia Shaningwa, speaking on behalf of others, informed President Hage Geingob that their meeting resolved to vigorously campaign in the rural areas for the masses to understand the missions and visions of the Liberation Movements.
It is not quite clear why the campaign has to target rural masses. With exception of South Africa, the struggle for National Independence in all the concerned countries was intense in rural areas.
The rural masses supported the liberation struggle. For this reason, they were targets of enemy forces. Here in the then, South West Africa, the whole of Northern Areas stretching from Zambezi to Kunene Rivers lived under curfew for more than a decade before Namibia’s Independence.
The masses in rural Southern Africa expect the liberation dividend. They lived through hell during the Liberation Struggle. They know the history. It appears the current Secretary Generals of the Liberation Movements, some of whom with dubious struggle or revolutionary credentials, seem to have short memories.
In Mozambique the armed struggle was waged in Cabo Delgado, Tete and other rural provinces. In Zimbabwe the armed struggle was waged in Chinoa, Mutare and other rural districts. In Angola the armed struggle was waged in Lunda Province and other rural provinces and in Namibia the armed struggle was waged intensively in Northern Areas.
Liberation Movements are now expected to deliver development to these rural areas. Taking Namibia as a case study, the first twenty years of independence saw visible change in the rural areas.
New schools were built; new health centres were opened; piped water reached remote villages; electricity distribution spread to schools and clinics; rural road networks were constructed; and the railway line was extended to the Angolan border.
The Trans- Kalahari and Trans Caprivi Highways connected Namibia to its neighbours. This was progress. This progress was supposed to be extended to villages and households’ levels.
New developments were to follow, such as provision of food and nutrition security; rural sanitation; improvement of rural agricultural systems; development of systems of marketing the products from rural communities; expansion of secondary and technical education; rural housing and provision of incentives for businesses to invest in rural areas.
These are the initiatives which could have strengthened and improved life in rural communities. People would have been enticed to stay in rural areas. Unfortunately, rural development stagnated. Poverty in rural areas increased. This poverty serves as a push factor for people to move into urban centres with subsequent mushrooming of squatter settlements in peri-urban areas.
Cities and town are over-whelmed by this massive movement of people from rural areas to urban centres. The challenge of sanitation is real. Urban hunger is real. Demand for housing is real. The regular outbreak of communicable diseases in these over-crowded squatter settlements, has become a fact of life.
Populist policies of free everything, are not helping the situation.
The free education policy which does not discriminate between those who can contribute to school fund and the poor has rendered schools, especially in rural areas, as mere custodians to keep children away from cuca shops.
Learning is minimal. Classroom consumables are meagre. The story of Linus Shashipapo Secondary School in Kavango Region is not an isolated case. Free education in some of these schools is in reality no education or poor education.
Similarly, free food in urban areas is a disincentive to farmers to cultivate their fields and produce their own food. People are moving to urban areas where there is free food and they live their mahangu fields uncultivated. Populism works for some time.
However, overtime populism shall come back to haunt the proponents of populist policies.
Liberation Movements have a historical mission to bring about social and economic transformation of communities in Southern Africa. The focus should now be on fighting poverty, inequality, unemployment, hunger and disease.
We must wage war against want by mobilising the people to exert their energies and ingenuity to socio-economic transformation in order to improve their living conditions wherever they are. Liberation Movements and their governments must ensure that there is a liberation dividend for the masses of our people. The struggle continues!

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