Humility is a virtue

11 February 2020 | Opinion

Michel de Montaigne, one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, once said: “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom”.

Montaigne was making a point about humility, and how unpredictably the wheel that is the world we live in can turn.

On unpredictability, British missionary Margot Barber summed it up nicely when she said: “One day you're cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.”

When Swapo lost its majority in parliament following last year's election, President Hage Geingob, who himself lost 30% of the votes he attained in 2014, gracefully remarked: “I have heard you.”

We understood this to mean that he has taken cognisance of the anger expressed against him and the party, and vowed to introspect.

But while the head of state seems to have been humble enough to reflect and interpret what the electoral outcome meant, those serving alongside him in the Swapo leadership do not seem to share the sentiment.

The remarks by party spokesperson Hilma Nicanor made on Friday that Swapo 'controls' the national budget and therefore the opposition and independent candidates cannot dictate development in constituencies were shocking.

To even say it publicly reeks of arrogance and portrays Swapo as having learnt nothing from the outcome of the November election.

The old adage that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers comes to mind. If the development budget is withheld in, for example, the Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency to set the LPM councillor up for failure, it is the residents of that area who would suffer.

To deliberately starve citizens because of parochial political gains is criminal, to say the least.

It is true that Swapo still commands a lot of control. There was no need to emphasise this point because even the blind can see just how in charge the party really is.

What the nation needed to know is what the party intends to do with the amount of power it commands. This is a battle of ideas, not a beauty contest.

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