A lot of articles have been written about the concept capitalism and democracy as well as monopoly/oligopoly. This piece of article is trying to diagnose the concept of capitalism vs democracy with a paradigm shift to monopoly/oligopoly versus one party state in Namibia. The article is attempting to scrutinise the current Namibian situation and how these concepts are impacting the nation daily.
It appeared that before independence, our liberation movements especially SWANU and SWAPO advocated for the ideology of socialism and communism as a form of desirable systems that should be applicable to a free and independent Namibia. However, this did not materialise under the current SWAPO administration. As per SWANU, the idea is still on paper and we are still waiting for the oldest liberation movement to come to power to see whether the concept of socialism or communism will be implemented or whether they will follow in the footsteps of their former sister liberation movement.
Capitalism versus Democracy
Capitalism implies that there is a free-market system where participants in the market are freely competing for the available resources. Democracy on the other hand implies that the will of the people should prevail, and the majority therefore should rule. This will obviously leave the minority vulnerable.
Article 98(1) of the Namibian constitution clearly states that ‘’the economic order of Namibia shall be based on the principles of a mixed economy with the objective of securing economic growth, prosperity and a life of human dignity for all Namibians’’.
It is clear that the ruling party is embracing the capitalist system as an ideal system that they are practising in Namibia or rather that is being implemented in Namibia. The ruling party is very much aware that all factors of productions are in the hands of the previous colonisers and therefore most black people who do not own the factors of production will not be able to compete fairly with the former colonisers and the elite who owns all the means of production. To make matters worse, our constitution was written in such a manner as to protect of the haves while knowingly well that the majority of Namibian are the have nots. The drafters of the constitution agreed on the concept of capitalism under the disguised of mixed economy while knowingly well that
capitalism will cause inequality and market failure. It is quite evident that most Namibians do not enjoy economic prosperity and their human dignity is obviously not being taken into consideration looking at their living standard. Their upward trajectory of abject poverty can easily be seen in Havana, Goreangab Dam, Okahandja Park, Twaloloka to name but a few.
The case of Air Namibia is not a surprise as this is the aftermath of non-consultation and entitlement on the part of Cabinet thinking that the national assets belong to the few politicians in cabinet. As a matter of fact, there is no single iota of an ideological interest in government holding non-profitable assets in Air Namibia. The more than 600 employees of Air Namibia who are now unemployed are now victim of mismanagement and poor decision making by few politicians in the cabinet.
By embracing capitalism, you are promoting few enterprises above the others and hence the playing field will never be levelled.
It is amazing or rather hilarious to listen to some politicians and experts stating that there are certain chapters and articles that cannot be changed in the constitution. This document was drafted in a certain era under certain circumstances. This is a document that was drafted by human beings and I am sure some means can be designed to change the same document. A referendum can be called to amend certain aspect of the constitution to suit majority of the Namibian people. We are all aware that the drafting of the constitution was under certain conditions and demands to gain independence. But now for heaven sake we are now more than 30 years of independence and we can relook at the constitution and review some gaps in the constitution.
Article 16(2) of the Namibian constitution states that ‘’ The state or competent body or organ authorised by law may expropriate property in the public interest subject to the payment of just compensation in accordance with the requirements and procedures to be determined by act of Parliament’’.
The above statement is definitely a capitalist statement insinuated by a capitalist ideology in trying to protect the properties of the haves. This is a statement that needs to be reviewed in the interest of the Namibian people and I think that this call has been repeated time and again and it appears that it is falling on deaf ears even if SWANU is saying “Patji Ngarikotoke’’.
Even Karl Marx who was a proponent capitalism had a different idea because his was to transform capitalism to a Marxist ideology where the proletarians (workers) will now own the means of production to increase productivity for the benefit of all in a society.
One of the capitalist institutions is the Bretton Wood System which has now become the International Monetary Fund. The initial idea of the Bretton Wood system was a noble one in that the intention was to ‘inter alia’ to assist the developing countries. However, the capitalist has now transformed the institution into a mafia type of institution where the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) are now used by the elite to fund New York Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and other major stock exchanges. When a third world country is trying to obtain a loan, strict austerity measures are imposed and if you do not fulfil their conditions, you are unlikely to get a loan from the IMF. That is the ripple effects of capitalism.
The cold war between The Peoples Republic of China and the United States is nothing but a war between the capitalist and the communist. Now that the Biden administration is back, the Trump policy of America First and that America is now back to multilarism, the cold war is more likely to escalate as the US is viewing China as autocratic and abuse human rights.
Democracy versus One Party State
In a Namibian perspective, it is quite visible that democracy is synonymous with a one-party state. Having multiparty in Namibia or in the parliament or having elections every four to five years does not necessarily transform into democracy. If you happen to give Fishrot money to SWANU, LPM or PDM I am quite positive that they will campaign at their full potential and loose in a fair and transparent manner because at least the resources were distributed equally.
Having a dominant party in a democracy like that of Namibia does not necessarily mean that the will of the people is well represented or prevailed. Namibian politics is very much skewed as it is heavily dominated by tribal orientation and demographic set up.
Maybe is high time to transform our so called multi party democracy into a multiparty cabinet and therefore have a Government of National Unity (GNU). It is evident in the debates of parliament that constructive engagement that comes from the other side of the bench is not taken into consideration and is not normally met with hostility. This hostility sometimes contributes to lack of cohesivity and nation building and as a result development and reconstruction will be the victim of circumstance. The concept of ‘’Cabinet Decision’’ even if the decision is not in the best interest of the country should be carefully scrutinised by having check and balances to review these decisions. Some of our colleagues in parliament do not have the necessary intellectual capacity to take serious decisions that will affect the nation.
The quality of debates for most of our colleagues in our democratic institution which is parliament leaves a lot to be desired. We cannot expect somebody who have been parliament since independence and with the age 75 to 80 years to debate on technical revolving issues of aviation or debate on the 4th and 5th industrial revolution. This will be just too much to ask from that particular Tate or Meme.
Our president is sometimes given too much power to appoint certain individuals in certain positions of power and this create an anarchy of the whole system. I am sure there are a lot of people with the necessary skills and eloquence that the President can choose from when appointing for instance our ambassadors. An Ambassador is the face of the Nation abroad and why would you want to appoint a person to embarrass you as the President as well as the nation at large.
Our people need development and prosperity in the near future. They are tired of empty promises during elections. Let us put more energy in delivering services rather than fancy election manifestos that are not implementable. The issues that there were raised in the Ancestral Land Report should be addressed as early as possible and the report should not be swept under the carpet under the pretence of being sensitive.
Retired Central Banker