Accountability, for its own sake!

07 October 2019 | Columns

During the Swapo election manifesto launch at Outapi on Saturday, the ruling party attempted to distance itself from the economic ruin the country is currently enduring. Last week, finance minister Calle Schlettwein also tried in vain to somewhat exonerate government from any responsibility regarding the recession that the country is going through. This attitude, where no one is willing to take responsibility for anything that is not going well, is dangerous, because how would we rectify our actions when we see no iota of wrongness in them? The narrative has always been that we are a victim of global market forces. Our own wrong decisions - such as largely neglecting to invest in productive sectors, while unsustainably increasing social spending - never features anywhere in the discourse. That there has not been consistent cost containment, especially in the high echelons of government, is never mentioned as a contributing factor to the deteriorating economic conditions in the country. Many ministries and government agencies have already exhausted their travelling budgets because the officials, chiefly ministers, are forever airborne and en route to Mickey Mouse gatherings in all corners of the world. Schlettwein last week tried to pour cold water over the latest downgrade by Fitch by stating that South Africa and Namibia remain the two “highest-rated economies” in the region with BB+ and BB ratings, respectively. The global economy, or even the regional one, may not have grown exponentially, but Namibia has veered off the rails in many ways. If our economic conditions are a mirror image of what is happening around us, how come we did not grow our economy at 2.3%, which sub-Saharan Africa recorded last year? True, we are a small economy and are therefore more fragile than our more resilient neighbours. But resilience doesn’t fall on the laps of governments. There are deliberate efforts that nations make in order to ensure such resilience. We have become a nation of implausible excuses. No one is willing to take responsibility for anything and that’s utterly sad.