Kae Matundu Tjiparuro
Eventually, 31 years after independence, Socialism is coming under the microscope in Namibia as evidenced by the ongoing debate on Socialism within the Swapo Party of Namibia under the auspices of the party school.
Understandably there’s WhatsApp group that has been established within the party to spearhead the debate on the issue. Any ideologue worth his/her salt cannot but appreciate and commend the Swapo ideologues for initiating such a debate within the party which is long overdue. Not for its own sake, and not for that matter for Swapo now saving its face and buying time as some would suppose in view of its showing during the polls, both Presidential and National Assembly elections in 2019, and the Regional and Local Authorities elections in 2020. But with serious purpose and intent to map the future socio-economic direction of the country.
Because the direction that the country must have been taking at independence, to say the least, has been as ambiguous ideologically, as it has been directionless socio-economically. Not knowing in which direction the country has been moving in terms of meaningfully and purposefully addressing the skewed socio-economic system that the country inherited at independence. Which by all pointers has been entrenching itself, despite all the good intentions by politicians, foremost within the governing Swapo Party of Namibia, to make good on its pre-liberation promises. Of delivering the Namibian people, especially the workers, from the yoke of poverty and Capitalism.
Rarely has it been crystal clear in many of the political pronouncements of the Swapo Party of Namibia, what the root cause of poverty in Namibia has been. Too often blamed and attributed to Apartheid and colonial legacy. One has been hearing about poverty, inequality and many other adjectives used to describe the adverse socio-economic conditions in the country, affecting mostly the lower strata of society, foremost the workers and peasants, without any reference to the root causes of such conditions.
The truthful context of these adverse socio-economic conditions in the country, has never been untangled scientifically while at the same time Capitalism, which some scholars of Marxist-Leninism would readily blamed for such conditions, has since independence been entrenching itself with little sign of any hindrance, and or ideological challenge in terms of offering Socialism as an antithesis to prevailing Capitalism.
One cannot but be nostalgic to the heydays of the liberation struggle, when the Marxist-Leninist ideology was a daily diet of the Namibia liberation movements, notably Swapo and Swanu. But comes and with independence the great ideologues of the two liberation movements, now transformed into political parties, seem to have disappeared in thin air. Due the politics of the times, realism that it is long haul to Socialism. Coupled with the politics of the belly not co-mingled with the politics avarice, greed and self aggrandisement and corruption.
Realpolitik of a negotiated settlement as the Swapo Party President, Dr Hage Geingob, admits. For the 31 years of independence, there have next to nothing in terms of socialist pronouncements on any socio-economic issue by either Swapo or Swanu, the expected would-have been ideological power houses of Namibia. Except for rare by the way empty rhetoric and utterances. Even in Parliament any reference to the word Socialism, as long as both Swapo and Swanu have been present in Parliament, there has been no mention of the word Socialism or any semblance of ideological disposition towards Socialism.
How can any true ideologue not see any light at the end of the tunnel in the latest initiative? If only to catapult the debate on Socialism back on the political agenda of Swapo. And as much on the national political agenda sooner than later. Because it is long overdue. For the ideological debate to permeate through all the political parties in the country, as indeed the various strata and structures of society, political, economic, cultural, and religious.
Several people have intermittently, some consistently, been expressing themselves on the various socio-economic conditions in the country. But because of ideological content, such expressions at the end of the day have been hollow. Resultantly the country have been seeming at most and all of the time hollow in most of its approaches to many of the socio-economic ills bedeviling the society, which are fundamentally an outflow and/or a manifestation of the contradictions of Capitalism.
One cannot but take note of the theme of the current debate, Socialism with Namibian Characteristics. By no means new. Because all along Marxist-Leninism has been cognisant of the fact that contradictions within any particular society would play themselves out differently at different epochs and time to bring about the requisite change. Hence the reference to subjective and objective conditions, which must obtain in any society for a revolutionary change in that society. If that is what is meant by Socialism with Namibian Characteristics, granted.
Surely, and expectedly so, different people may take differently to the ongoing debate on ideology and/or Socialism within Swapo. Some may dismiss it as only the last kick of a dying horse like fellow Marxist-Leninists in the Namibian Marxism Study Group towards the close of last year. Yet others may think there’s not much Dr Geingob may have said in terms of elucidating the ideological disposition of the Swapo Party, or let alone his own. Granted. But the bottom line to my understanding of Dr Geingob’s remarks, is that Namibia’s is a negotiated settlement and has not been born out of a revolution, unlike many other societies that embarked on Socialism following revolutions. Simply said, Namibia is till beholden to Capitalism. The question is, is she disposed towards cutting this umbilical cord? What does it take to do so? And embarking upon what once this umbilical cord with Capitalism has been cut? Is Socialism the best and/or only option? This is essential the big question that all of us must debate and a
nswer. And as an important caveat ideological refinement within the Namibian society cannot, must not and should not be left to the Dr Geingobs of today.