Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Constitutionally Namibia is a mixed economy. Looks like this has been taken on face value and for granted without pausing to interrogate what this means.

Those who are socialist-oriented may take this to mean a mixture of socialism and capitalism. But is this feasible if this is what is meant by mixed economy? For the capitalist oriented mixed economy cannot mean anything at best other than a social welfare system one akin to that in social welfare states in many European states like Sweden and Norway. Could this be what the founders of the Namibian constitution envisaged?

“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,” affirms Article 98 of the Namibian Constitution, which is about the principles of economic order. But more specific the article further defines Namibia’s mixed economic order as being based on the following forms of ownership: a) public; b) private c) joint public- private; d) co-operative; e)co-ownership; and f) small scale family.

For those who may have been under any illusion what mixed economy may mean socialism, from the above any such illusion should not but be completely dispelled. Unless on very close scrutiny and very loose interpretation, one could discern any measure, if at all, of the ownership of means of production by the legitimate owners, the workers. Initially in the early stages through the State, and eventually with the withering away of the State, by the proletariat through its dictatorship.

It is hard in Namibia to find any public policy setting the stage towards an eventual ownership of the mean of production by the masses, led by the class that matters most in this regard, the workers. As hybrid as what mixed economy denotes, and it actually entails eclectic forms of ownership, likewise the various policies trying to address the socio-economic ills, many of them a legacy of imperial capitalism, are as much a hybrid. Their hybrid nature have rendered a situation where most of the policies do not speak to one another.

This is so much a question of lack of ideology and ideological content. Because if all policies, whether on land and/or on industrialisation, or any other sector as may be necessary, are all from one ideological perspective, their ultimate goal should not only be in sync but also in synergy. Such ultimate goal being the common ownership of the means of production by the masses and/or the workers, and an egalitarian society. If this was the case then one would not find either the
chaotic competition or contradiction between the various policies because they would be speaking to the same thing.

If the short term goal is laying the foundation for a radical socio-economic transformation, based on socialist principles, mindful of course of the immediate needs of the masses, hailing from economic deprivation and neglect, there would be not much contradiction between policies in the various sectors because all shall be speaking to them same ultimate goal ideologically. But if you have at the same time, as is currently the case in the Namibian economic order of a perceived mixed economy, a) public; b) private c) joint public- private; d) co-operative; e)co-ownership; and f) small scale family, all rolled into one, than organised chaos and anarchy is the order as is currently the case. The very anarchy in production that a command economy proposes to and should eliminate.

To give Namibia’s mixed economic order the benefit of the doubt, one cannot but ask what and where any of the above forms of ownership have really been working to the benefit of the broader common good of society other than for lining the pockets of a few anointed individuals, the perceived successful businesspeople-cum-entrepreneurs or tenderpreneurs. A typical case in point is the Namibian Fishing Sector, which without any denial and doubt, is a multimillion industry. But there is little empirical evidence of the generally well-to-do-ness of Namibia as an egalitarian society. Except for the few anointed fishing rights holders who are multimillionaires amidst squalor, poverty and decay of their communities and society.

Everything revolves around land as a means of production. But if land is privately owned, as is the case of the vast tracts of land in Namibia, both in urban and rural areas, and access to finance to acquire and develop such land such land a privilege of a few in the face of inhibitive invisible hand of the free market, which makes it out of reach of ordinary Namibians, how can Namibia reasonably and conceivably be expected to deal with the socio-economic legacies of the colonial era? Ills which continues to haunt the country, and render the political principals, despite their good intentions, lame duck and no-good doers but masters of empty promises. And ringing in the much-needed radical socio-economic transformation, and eventually transition to a command economic order a pipe dream.