Corruption in Namibia: A consequence of political nepotism and tribal solidarity

29 May 2020 | Opinion

Rukee Tjingaete


Whenever tribalism in Namibia is debated, people jump aggressively to the notion that one is playing a tribal card without considering the context in which it is applied to advance an argument.

We are reminded of its devastations in Rwanda and many African countries where millions of citizens have lost their lives. Therefore, we are cautioned and even warned.

However, we tend to ignore the fact that tribalism is not only manifested in civil wars, but in many other forms that deprive people of their livelihoods and therefore creates discontent.

Ever-lingering effects of apartheid

Namibia today suffers the ever-lingering effects of the South African regime’s institutionally formalised policy of apartheid that divided and ruled over the citizens of this country on the basis of their tribal identity. Despite our denial of its pervasive historical impact today, it is now manifesting itself in tribal politics that seem to advance corruption based on tribal solidarity and regionalism (‘Bantustan policy of homelands for different tribes’).

In Namibia, just like in some corrupt African countries, the looting gangs of state resources form empowerment companies that are purely based on tribal solidarity and regional identity.

The rationale is to keep the secret of corrupt entitlement under the carpet in that ethnic outsiders may not be trusted, because they may be not 100% loyal to tribal solidarity or regionalism. Do we deny the fact that when we form empowerment companies to apply for tender projects, the first questions we ask ourselves are:

· Who is from my region and tribe that I can approach for partnership?

· Who shares my political views?

· How are we related in order to advance our common family interests?

· Do we share the same political affiliation?

Ugly face of corruption

The question is then: How should one address this tribal manifestation of corruption without offending the majority of the citizens of this country who loathe corruption, irrespective of tribe and region? How best can we address and arrest the ugly face of tribalised, politicised and regionalised corruption?

Firstly, we must appreciate the fact that the thieves who plunder state resources through corruption are a tiny majority of our population. As a result, they do not represent any interest other than that of their own swollen bellies.

Secondly, we must address tribalism in such a way that raising it must not blind us to become its propagators and victims of its manifestations.

Thirdly, we must admit that we are all mental psychopaths of historical and institutionalised tribalism that was clinically applied through South Africa’s homeland policy.

We can claim that we have changed since independence, but there are many who still harbour tribal solidarity as a consequence of the pervasive effects of Bantustan.

Based on this argument, I am tempted to postulate that: The history of tribal politics in Namibia might have unconsciously resulted in a tribal-based hegemony and narratives that, under the current corrupt political system, would protect tribal solidarity and corruption at the highest level of the state.

Ethnic interests and narratives

Namibia’s political landscape is structured along ethnic interests and narratives before and after independence.

The policy of national reconciliation appears to simply be a convenient slogan, because the pervasive impact of ethnicity that was imposed on Namibia remains in force. The evidence to this claim is the de facto reality of having many political parties or formations that are tribal-based and therefore seem to derive their votes from their ethnic strong-base that are advocating parochial ethnic interests and narratives.

The recent parliamentary and presidential elections are evidence of this social reality.

For example, when politicians canvass for votes in the remotest local traditional authority areas, they appeal to tribal sentiments to gain support from the chiefs and their followers.

How then should we fight tribalised corruption?

Fighting tribalised corruption

· Reject the registration of empowerment companies whose membership and boards reflect tribal identity and regionalism.

· Caution the appointment of high-ranking officials from the same ethnic group.

· Reject the rationale of tenderpreneurship.

· Do not issue tenders or consider applications from empowerment companies that have already been empowered before, unless new applicants lack skills and capacity.

· Consider what benefits these empowerment companies hold for the majority of citizens.

· Review the managerial structure of state-owned enterprises.

Year of introspection

In conclusion, the promotion of tribal politics generally advances tribal hegemony that feeds nepotism, regionalism, tribal solidarity and corruption. The solution to this challenge is to seriously consider the advice of the president that this year should be the year of introspection. Therefore, grab this opportunity to genuinely and without fear to address issues we want to ignore under the pretext of peace and stability.

The art of pretence that everything is fine will not solve the country’s emerging challenges. We will succeed to keep the republic together by being frank and honest in speaking the truth because it will liberate us.

I take my hat off to selected Namibian newspapers that continue to expose corruption in this country. They are the champions of our democracy.

Our differences should not deter us from joining the event that, under these difficult conditions, is our only source of inspiration and unity.

Similar News


Swapo must assume moral leadership

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Opinion

Speaking to Namibian Sun in August, former Botswana president Ian Khama accused liberation movements in Southern Africa of ‘oppressive brotherhood’, taking aim at their deafening...

Africa’s ‘smart reopening’ through technology is urgent for AfCFTA

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Opinion

OLUSEGUN OBASANJOThe world is reopening for social and economic activity following many months of 'lockdown' and other restrictive measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.It...

Time to work our socks off

4 days ago - 18 September 2020 | Opinion

As expected by every sensible person, President Hage Geingob yesterday announced the end of the Covid-19 state of emergency whose dark cloud has engulfed the...

Sam’s journey to Namibia’s heart

4 days ago - 18 September 2020 | Opinion

Brian Gonteb and Usko Shivute Namibia; who is she, who is this girl… no, not a girl any more, she has come of...

Open up the country, now

5 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Opinion

Today at 15:00 President Hage Geingob is expected to give direction on the way forward regarding the state of emergency in general and the lockdown...

Retain some of the Covid regulations

6 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Opinion

The world is working around the clock to make a medical breakthrough against Covid-19.If that breakthrough occurs, as is expected by many, the so-called Wuhan...

The significance of Swapo's new headquarters

6 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Opinion

Hosea Neumbo ShishiveniThe ultimate goal of Swapo was to unite the Namibian people into one solid political organisation capable of confronting the South African occupation...

A look at the generational paradigm in Namibian politics

6 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Opinion

Erastus Ndeyapo HailwaIt is often argued that political preferences are shaped by categories such as race, ethnicity, gender and class. However, more recently, generational politics...

Creating stereotypes

1 week ago - 15 September 2020 | Opinion

Sergiana Browny I do think that the media contributes to spreading awareness on negative stereotypes because not everyone tends to take things seriously. And memes...

Swapo must be laughing hysterically

1 week ago - 15 September 2020 | Opinion

With only two months left before the much-hyped regional and local authority elections, the country's opposition is divided – a comedy show that Swapo must...

Latest News

Sioka condemns withdrawal of GBV...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Social Issues

KENYA KAMBOWENKURENKURUGender equality and child welfare minister Doreen Sioka has condemned victims of gender-based violence (GBV), predominantly women, who withdraw such cases after they have...

EIF wins award for sustainable...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia will receive an award that recognises its success in financing climate-change resilient livelihoods.The EIF will receive the...

Swapo must assume moral leadership

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Opinion

Speaking to Namibian Sun in August, former Botswana president Ian Khama accused liberation movements in Southern Africa of ‘oppressive brotherhood’, taking aim at their deafening...

Mining industry contracts 11.1%

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Business

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe mining industry has recorded a negative growth of 11.1% last year, a deep contraction from the positive growth of 16.1% in 2018.This is...

Former governor Vatuva laid to...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | People

TUYEIMO HAIDULAOMUNGWELUMEFormer governor of Oshana Region Silvanus Vatuva was buried at the Omulungwelume cemetery in the Ohangwena Region on Saturday.President Hage Geingob paid tribute to...

Return to school not mandatory:...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Education

NAMPAKHORIXASThe return of learners to schools is not mandatory but encouraged, as learning from home is captured in the current circular put in place, education...

Orange River agreement revised

1 day - 21 September 2020 | International

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKAgriculture minister Calle Schlettwein has recommended that the National Assembly ratifies the revised Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission (Orasecom) agreement.The agreement between Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho...

APP condemns Stina's discount land...

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Politics

RUNDUNAMPAThe All People's Party (APP) has condemned the alleged N$20 million discount land deal businesswoman Stina Wu scored at Divundu in the Kavango East Region.APP...

Havana rape spree continues

1 day - 21 September 2020 | Crime

NAMPAWINDHOEKA man from Havana informal settlement in Windhoek was shot dead early Saturday morning when he tried to come to the aid of his sister...

Load More