Monday 19 April 2021
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Theft, our national aspiration

Thieves are only at peace between themselves and for themselves, and that is the sad story of our country.
For years, we’ve incorrectly termed the unprecedented thievery of the state’s resources as corruption. I argue this for two reasons. First, we’ve not developed any functional socio-political systems of our own which someone would seek to undermine to break down. Secondly, we’ve failed to construct even a common national identity, not to mention an economy or political ideology which we could term Namibian.
Therefore, those that have been illegally helping themselves from the state’s coffers for personal benefits, are not corrupt, but thieves.
Even though this is technically termed ‘political corruption’ – the concept fails to embrace the realities of developing countries, many of which lack the political self-conceptualisation.
These are by definition accidental political structures which inherited systems they didn’t understand or skilled to manage. They became overwhelmed by the vast amounts of ‘money’ and other resources to manage, which failed amidst the absence of both a political and a moral vision.
Immediately after independence we plunged into a grand thieving state. By 1995, many had become millionaires and were living large.
At an early stage of our independence, we demonstrated a deeply seated moral failure – theft. Starting with our political figures, many of whom spend their lives in exile and poverty to those who were cunning enough to find their way to the high tables became rich. Not by hard work, skilfulness or economic prudence but through unblushing theft.
A form of theft, we all watched and gossiped about in salons and pubs. Thirty years later, we are paying for our silence. We the public, in as much as we complain today and try to blame the Geingob administration have been accomplices of this present decay. That’s what happens when society lets down its moral guard. For example, we witnessed the silence of key religious figures in the midst of growing theft and maladministration of public resources.
The religious leaders who are hailed as heroes of the liberation struggle against apartheid, have fallen into the same silence. Silently watching as the decay intensified and began to eat away at the entire society, especially the vulnerable. It’s this silence that has bolstered structures of thievery.
How could they speak out especially when some of these churches were given some of a state recognition by the government. Not to mention that some of the leaders were granted key political positions.
In our silence we’ve witnessed how the government devised a tender system that became a way to licence stealing.
Thanks though to the few who needed the economic boost offered by this system. However, for many this was simply a way of channelling money to comrades and their relatives. Many of these projects were left incomplete, never started or of poor quality. The billions of dollars that were pumped into these tenders, were never accounted for and the culprits have continued to apply for more tenders through the years. Not to mention how even the Chinese have had their share of raking in billions of dollars which they laundered and took out of the country in forms of foreign currencies.
The above-mentioned issues demonstrate that the problem of our nation is much deeper that just economics.
Even if we had a grand system that would remove all our economic woes, we’ll plunge back into this state very soon. Ours is a moral problem. Economics, systems, government, planning etc without ethics will only serve to entrench social decay. Failure to deal with present moral decay and to bring to justice those that are guilty of the kind of theft we have witnessed, raises serious questions about our future as a nation.
The recent ruling by the Prosecutor General regarding the missing millions of the GIPF, point to the fact of this moral failure. In as much as she would have us believe that this is a system error, it is in fact a moral weakness.
The kind that would not take the risk to disturb the comfort of very powerful and well-connected individuals who have benefitted from this theft of pension money of ordinary hardworking civil servants. It sends waves of indignation when justice is not served and the people who have been wronged in the process should only live with an apology.
Recently the Prime Minister would have us believe that our economic down-turn is because of the two consecutive years of drought.
This is the rhetoric of irresponsibility, covering up crimes that have brought down the country’s economy by blaming a natural disaster. There we see how politics of power fails to take responsibility, because it is not governed by any moral code, except that which serves its own interests.
Queijo Quiejo pão pão! We’re a nation of thieves either by action or by our silence. Without a moral compass to redirect ourselves, we’ll presently just be hoping for the economy to recover so we can steal again. There’s no sense of humanity as those in power will continue to use the little resources to enrich themselves as the poor continue to be poorer. Ours is worse than an economic crisis, we’ve lost the sense of telling right from wrong.
In so doing we’ve become comfortable in the alternative reality we’ve created, one in which our children are aspiring to become politicians, businesspersons, or any other public figure so they may steal. That is a shameful legacy to imagine, however, it’s our thirty years legacy.

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