In today’s political climate we all, as Namibians, have an important role to play. But, what is that role? We are all aware of the desperate situation our country is in including, economic recession, increases in crime rates, political uncertainty, and job insecurity. What are we doing to improve our situation as a country?
Firstly, I will pose my question to our dear politicians. I have observed over the years, some poor governance decisions; the sale of Rössing Uranium or the “hot topic” Erindi land sale; poor management of government funds, lack of accountability and transparency in the use of state funds, and other concerns.
Some of these decisions were probably made with the mindset that they were “for the betterment of our country”, but I am forced to counter this. If these decisions made were truly the best thing for Namibia, you would need to dig deeper into the aftermath of your decisions to see that they were not.
For example, while foreign investment is a good thing; but when it sucks money out of the country and subjugates citizens’ needs to those of the foreign investors, then such investment may not be so good. We cannot welcome foreign investment without looking at the negatives for our own people and our currency and making a better plan. Targeted, negotiated and mitigated foreign investment can be a good thing, while an open store called “Namibia for sale to anyone with cash”, is not.
The little bit I understand about economics tells me that balance in any economy is a must. Too much of one thing can never be advantageous. As for the sale of Erindi, and other farms owned by foreigners, I understand that the government could not “afford” to buy it, but maybe an agreement could have been made so Namibia could have some side benefits in training and apprenticeships for hospitality students or maintaining certain rights and controls over the land itself, particularly regarding the high value wildlife living on Erindi or any future re-sale of the property.
We can call Mr. Ballières a “special investor” with experience in other land ventures and business deals around the world, but he is 87 years old! We don’t know what his family or other members of his board of directors, who will inherit his properties, will do once the principal investor is no longer around. If our dear politicians were thinking of the future, then they would not make quick decisions that seem beneficial now, but present uncertainties for the future.
Now let me say a word to our working segment of the population; employed and unemployed. I’m saddened to say, as Namibians, we are not big thinkers. We do little to innovate and create in our country. The majority mindset is simply to “finish school, get a degree and find any job.” Then people work their entire lives for a basic salary, living paycheck-to-paycheck. That is a long circular road, leading to nowhere.
We need to be more open-minded and entrepreneurial. We need to go beyond the norm and strive for economic independence. Having lived in South Africa for years, I became amazed and inspired by the passion and drive that exists within that country, despite their own economic and societal problems.
South Africans create, innovate and open their own businesses. Even without education, people find a way to make their own income without the “find a job mindset”, whether they make and sell jewelry or crafts, or food, there is always something they are hustling to sell. And that is why their economy is doing better than most in Africa. They are a creative, innovative country with a growing manufacturing industry. Our government should invest more in viable manufacturing businesses and innovative ideas, instead of 730 million-dollar buildings, new hospitals that are white elephants and projects that stop construction midway.
The final group of people I will speak to is my loud-mouthed fellow youths. What are we doing for our futures? Leaving the country the first chance we get? Travelling the world with daddy or mommy’s money, not concerned with what is happening in our own country? Waiting for government or someone else to ‘give us’ a job? These actions are disheartening.
Some of us get the best education, only to end up working in the UK or USA. We do not give back enough to our own economy. Yes, it might be easier to find a well-paying job abroad, but giving up or not even trying, is not the way we change things here at home.
For those who complain so much about politics and issues within our country, what are we doing to change the situation? We need to stop complaining and come together to develop ideas and projects to change our situation.
So Fellow Namibians, let’s think bigger and do better.