Let’s raise debate levels

13 March 2020 | Columns

With a new parliament set to be sworn in soon, there is a sense of something new brewing in terms of vigorous and forthright debates taking place in the interest of the nation.

Politicians have a moral responsibility to keep our democracy vibrant and to bring solutions to the myriad of issues facing Namibia.

Now, with an economic recovery plan on the table, which is being contemplated by President Hage Geingob after its delivery by the high-level panel on the economy, it is time for the new executive and lawmakers to jump in and assist vigorously in not only making it a reality, but also to critique meaningfully and set a timeline for low-hanging fruits to be plucked.

But this raises the serious question about whether those from across party divides can actually get to grips with putting name-calling and petty insults aside, while acting within the parameters of normal contestation, and deliver consistent consensus on national issues.

The table is set for this, given the stronger showing of the opposition as a whole during last year’s National Assembly poll.

In many ways the political discourse has deteriorated and has become a duck hunt for the scalp of the incumbent head of state.

In the past, the lack of vigorous and meaningful debate could surely be laid at the doorstep of not only the ruling party, which had the luxury of bulldozing legislation, but also the opposition.

Meaningful engagement must, in the context of our current quagmire, offer practical solutions and alternatives.

The ball is now in everyone’s court to put Namibia first, while resisting the urge to score unending political points in another election year.

What the country can ill afford is a political circus that may offer entertainment and newspaper headlines, but which, at the end of the day, further polarises support bases and voters.

The hunger, frustration and desperation of ordinary Namibians should be first on the agenda, not who can best humiliate and malign each other.

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