Stagnation is strangling Namibia

31 August 2018
We are very concerned that Namibia’s deep well of new and innovative ideas to extricate the country from its current financial morass, uplift the people, and project an international image of an energetic country for the 21st century, is bone dry. 
Our leaders are not just old in age, but they are unable to look at old problems with new eyes.  They are stagnant and the country is in a stalemate with destiny; our future opportunities as a nation are being strangled one-by-one.
The official opposition leader, McHenry Venaani, may not be able to garner voter support to win (or even closely challenge) the 2019 presidential elections. 
In spite of that reality, it must be acknowledged that his party put him upfront at a young age, so that now after nearly two decades of leadership experience, he is fresh and vital just when the country is starving for innovative, different, and better ideas.
He has the podium presence to make his ideas heard at local, national and international levels, representing the opposition as a whole or speaking only for his party. 
SWAPO has equally vibrant, young, motivated, intelligent, professional voices in its ranks, but they are not given the podium and exposure necessary to have the ‘experience’ needed to lead the nation out of stagnation. 
The old guard keeps hanging on by aging fingernails, backed by less talented younger sycophants who dare not step out of line and espouse any new ideas, and are rewarded by being placed in high office with the sole purpose of helping to maintain the ancient status quo when they should be focussed on leading the country with new ideas, plans, vitality and modern skills.
This tendency to repeat the same programs and policies like parrots, without the need to address old problems with fresh ideas, untried (but viable) programs, and try out skilled, but new faces in high places, is strangling Namibia, slowly, but surely.
If it is true that Asser Kapere, the former Chairman of the National Council will be sent as Ambassador to Donald Trump’s USA, we wonder why Mandela Kapere is not being sent instead.
We use the Kapere father and son only as an example, with no insult to either of these distinguished gentlemen intended. 
With all due respect to the honoured former chairman, the youthful voice of intelligence, perseverance and insistence on behalf of Namibia is what is needed, not spent forces who may lack the strong health, new thinking and vivacity needed to adamantly represent the needs of the people. 
The ruling party must stop falling back on the same old faces to say the same old things, when old problems need new voices and new plans.
We challenge everyone to look at nbc news broadcasts about major policy plans of the government from 1998 and 2008.  We submit that most of those issues are the same in broadcasts of 2018 and the proposed solutions (as well as those making the policy statements) are largely, the same.
No new ideas are on the planning table and that is why old problems keep growing resulting in the huge economic depression that this country is facing now. 
Old plans and planners must step aside.  We need well-researched plans, people who have the energy to move fast to get things done and who think five or 10 years into a future where they likely will still be around to implement those plans and policies.
While we respect our elders and must always listen to their experiences and advice, this country must no longer follow them into yesteryear’s plans for a modern, ICT-driven, fast-paced, economically competitive future. 
We must challenge the stagnation choking Namibia with new ideas and new people to implement them.
Government must run somewhat as businesses do.  No CEO stays on board for 20 or 28 years.  For the good of the company’s advancement, CEOs that were great for yesterday’s challenges, move aside to let others jump the business forward to face tomorrow’s market challenges. 
We respect our elders, but that respect does not extend to quietly watching the strangulation of this nation while people continue to give support to leaders with outdated ideas. 
Our august president is fast approaching 80. The vice president, deputy prime minister and almost all of the current Cabinet members have been in one high office or another since the early years after independence.  They have led this country to where it is today for good and for ill.
In various offices held over more than two decades, they have shown that they are unable to adapt or evolve their thinking away from solutions more appropriate for the liberation movement priorities of the 1970-80s and focus on Namibia’s national needs in 2018.  And yet, these leaders continue to hang on. 
We look back and recall that when President Geingob was Prime Minister the first time around, George Bush Senior was the US President.
The US is on its fourth president in office and Geingob is still in leadership in Namibia.  The world and national dynamics are different now than they were 30 or 20 or 10 years ago. The policy solutions needed back then, do not fit what is required now.
Many currently in leadership have touted the name of the current party Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah to step up into the country’s presidency after the Geingob reign ends.  Some of us are baffled at this constant move to turn to the same old people, who back the same old ideas and have views of policy in the same old way.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose.  Our current crop of leaders’ time has passed.
The stagnation in Namibia must end quickly while there is still much left to save or revive.  Most of our perennial leaders have feathered their nests quite sufficiently by now and need to let go of power and go live nicely in them.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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