How did we get here?

24 May 2019 | Opinion

How did we get to a situation, as a country, where our government is asking already struggling workers to donate 2% of the salaries as a one-off payment, ostensibly for drought-relief efforts? How did we get to a situation where we have had to go cap in hand to ask for billions in loans? How did we get to a situation where the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) has now been forced to turn away 12 000 applicants who met the minimum requirements and were eligible for funding this year? How did we get to a situation where nearly half the youth are unemployed? The list of our woes is long and seemingly endless.

The once-thriving Namibian economy, albeit still shockingly lacking value-addition to our raw materials, is now far removed from its salad days.

It is a sad state of affairs, most importantly for Namibian families who are suffering amid one of the worst droughts in history.

But to lay the blame at the current administration's door would be too simplistic.

At different stages since our democracy was birthed 29 years ago, a coterie of the connected have feasted on the state largesse, as massive and often non-priority projects and initiatives ended up buying sports cars, SUVs and other luxury items for tenderpreneurs who enjoyed close proximity to political power.

When we should have focused on industrialisation, our bones were being picked clean. When we should have invested in real job-creation, we gave tender magnates the leeway to rake in millions, without them even finishing their projects. We have allowed impunity to become our national sport, as bigwigs escape the law, while those stealing fuel are targeted by our so-called anti-corruption fighters. Our entire democracy is built on one-party domination.

We literally believe that we can put the fox in charge of the henhouse and still find our chickens alive when we return home from our daily toils. We have been shopping at Edgars on a Pep budget for years and years.

Our government officials have so many bodyguards and flashy cars you would think there is a sniper around every corner.

Our state-owned enterprises have been run like there is an endless stream of gold coins being laid by a golden goose in fairy tales.

Other countries will look at our cabinet and civil service and believe that we have 200 million people instead of 2.6 million. And while workers are now being asked to dip into their already empty pockets, our leaders clock up flying miles as if they received a memo that this will be the last year humans will be able to take to the skies.

How did we get here? We were ferried here by those intent on vacuuming up the state's coffers, while the rest of us have been left to fend for ourselves. And now they want more of our hard-earned money. Sies man!