Dancing with the devil

…Namibia seeks IMF loan

And so it begins. The descent of Namibia into the ranks of so many other nations that have mismanaged their affairs, made honest mistakes, been captured by corruption, and suffered unavoidable bad luck has happened. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is happy to race to the rescue. They have thrown Namibia a radioactive life preserver. The country must decide to either drown or grab the thing. Those are the usual choices when you are forced to dance with the devil.

Make no mistake; the IMF is a powerful and effective instrument of western capitalist imperialism. They are not ashamed of this. They have been taking over countries’ economies for more than 70 years. Their methods, perspectives and chequered past are well-documented and heavily debated. Google articles on the topic and start reading.

We all let this devil into the Namibian House. The dance is unavoidable now.

Whites who benefited from apartheid and colonialism weakened the people with poor healthcare, malnutrition, slave wages, substandard education, promoting black self-hatred, and subjugation. It is not an excuse for the current disaster; it is one part of the explanation.

Once our victorious heroes fought the liberation struggle, the best people relaxed. Most forgot about the delayed gratification and sacrifice that won the struggle. Living your best life became the anthem. However, the masses of the Namibian people had not yet recovered from apartheid. Their human needs remained great. Painful institutional changes made with a pro-poor focus have never been done. They are not at the forefront of government budgets and policies. This is another part of the explanation.

Fishrot is not the only ugliness going on. It is the only one uncovered in detail. We all know about the billions lost in scams, naïve ‘deals’ and con games. Once the IMF moves into its oversight role off-budget or un-vetted spending will not be allowed. The IMF will not be moved by white privilege, party affiliations, nepotism, tribalism, or comrades who fought for the country. They have a devastating and cold-hearted template for rescuing drowning economies and Namibia will have no choice but to fall in line.

Then there is COVID-19. Poverty, poor nutrition and an overall weak physical health make Namibia a ripe breeding ground for pandemics. The IMF will likely dictate how we handle our pandemic protection efforts and post-pandemic recovery.

The devil’s money will perhaps be used (if they allow it) to assist the strongest companies in the tourism and construction industries. It could help them to survive the pandemic.

We can get our hospitals improved and maybe they will allow us to give frontline war bonuses to healthcare workers. The security services can chase down anyone testing positive that runs away from quarantine. And, (if they agree) unfinished low cost houses might be able to be finished and distributed via a fair lottery. This could thin-out the densely populated tin shack suburbs where the pandemic is thriving.

Some will cheer the IMF. To those, we say: be careful what you wish for.

Structural Adjustment, called by another name, is coming. The IMF will bring their people here to make things happen their way. Cabinet will bluster and make speeches and sound nationalistic but will ultimately defer to their wishes.

Brace yourselves. There will be a massive decrease in our civil service payroll. Tens of thousands of families will lose their entire lifestyles. The ripple effect in loss of services usually consumed by those families also will be devastating.

Commercial SOEs will be privatized and purchased by highest bidder; they will bring in their people to run things. Namibia may see unused government property sold to whoever has money. Work and business visa roadblocks will vanish. Anything investors ask for will be granted. As in other cases when the IMF stepped in, they will do these things methodically and with a big smile.

Unfettered free trade will be immediate. Requirements to use local companies, train local workers, or hire local people first or buy Namibian raw materials will fall away. NEEEF is dead.

As things progress, Namibia will be flooded with cheaper Western products. All cottage industries, family businesses, and SMEs should be very worried. Issues like Ancestral Land or Genocide Reparations or land being offered first to government for purchase might conflict with budgetary priorities (as defined by the IMF). They could be questioned.

Swapo should as well prepare to get IMF approval of their election manifesto. If this IMF agreement follows the usual patterns, no policy can be implemented that is not in line with the loan agreement. There will be no Harambees or Mass Housing Projects that they do not approve.

Anyone with money may be allowed to bid for Namibian natural resources. They could begin to pick this nation’s assets apart to raise money to cover the budget shortfall. They could go as far as to object to any local law that they feel hinders their economic solutions.

When you dance with the devil, you will be on your feet and forced to move forever.

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