Economic liberation eludes Namibia as Nujoma turns 89

As the founding President and Father of the nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma turned 89 last Saturday, the debate continues to rage as to whether those that took over from him have managed to make good of his legacy and bring the vision of a liberated Namibia to fruition.

Among these voices are those who spring from the old guard, most of whom remain entrenched in the corridors of power but also, new generation political activists, commentators and ordinary Namibians who feel left out of the power circles and at the front of the siege for economic independence. 

The most recent assessment of how good Nujoma’s political heirs have made of carrying forward the struggle was made by sitting vice-president Nangolo Mbumba, who admitted that indeed economic liberation was fast becoming a fight against the tide.

Yet having himself commenced the liberation effort towards the attainment of freedom in his youthful days, does the founding father have much to smile about at how the war effort to liberate the economy is being protracted and carried out? 

“No he can not be happy until we stand up as the next generation and show to him that we are taking off from where he left off. Have we done that? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves. Am sure as a person who is supposed to be retiring he cannot be retiring in absolute peacefulness until we show him that his efforts where not in vain,” says columnist Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro. 

Swapo Party Youth League secretary Ephraim Nekongo laments the rise of corruption and greed among those that have been lured by the trappings of power as having crippled the momentum to continue the struggle. 

“Just to give a tender to somebody, you cannot because apparently you cannot get anything out of it. At the end of the day that prolongs the process and those are the issues that we need to fight hard.”

“As you said, economic liberation is not easy because now you have to face people, sometimes it becomes personal and we need to fight corruption because that is one of the loop-holes that we have that prevents us to achieve economic liberation,” he says.

Nekongo however says that “We are trying” citing that the leadership is not “perfect” and he pointed at Vision 2030 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan as an indication that it’s still aluta continua.

Vision 2030, 12 years away is becoming almost an illusion in the minds of many critics outside the circles of the ministry that is gunning for it. 

Yet the lack of implementation has created a growing feeling of uncertainty and impatience in the post Nujoma-presidency era. 

“We need to get out of our shells and make political decisions to catalyse the speedy implementation of the policies that we have,” says Nekongo.  

Political activist, Job Amupanda painted a dark picture as far as the new generation ability to fit in the shoes of Nujoma and walk the talk is concerned.

For him the underlining of it is that the vestiges of the old guard can no longer take the country to the Promised Land and thus suggesting that this calls for the coming in of fresh blood.  

“The economic program is not succeeding, worse because it is being put in the hands of people who are 70 and 80 years. The guys that are in power do not have the energy, stamina and ability and courage and determination to take the struggle for economic freedom forward,” he explains. 

He derives his argument from Franz Fanon’s work, “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness: “It says that you would soon discover that the liberators will turn to the taste of money, the taste of property.”

“Remember that we took the institutions of state. There was no decolonisation in terms of power. The education system was not decolonised and the image and imagination of the self, of the black people was not decolonised. So fundamentally we are dealing with a colonial question that has been addressed partly," he says.

 Matundu-Tjiparuro has come out to say that it is up to the current leadership to define what economic liberation means.

 “Do we mean we as blacks substituting whites in terms of economic power or are we talking about transformation of the economy so that it benefits all? Are we talking about a few black elite taking over from whites or are are talking about transforming the economy wholesomely so that it can touch everyone? So we need to know what are talking about.”