To give Namibia’s early resistance advocates, none of whom exist today, and latter day liberation/freedom proponents and agitators if not agents provocateurs, and today’s agents of change, whoever they are and may be, and/or ought to be, the benefit of the doubt, there can be no denying that the country’s basic document, the Constitution, which paved the way or heralded the country’s independence in 1990, is as good as could have been expected in its times.
Yours Truly Ideologically cannot but re-emphasise the notion in its times. These times being nationalist political times, when the pre-occupation was national colonial resistance against foreign imperialism, and latter day against foreign occupation and/or Apartheid occupation.
There and then the radar was placed, more than anything else, on immediate political rights, oblivious to the fact that the ideology of Colonialism-cum-Imperialism and/or Apartheid was not intrinsic to itself, but a function of greater ideology, that of Capitalism.
There and then it was assumed that getting rid of Colonialism-cum-Imperialism and/or Apartheid, was not a means to any other end, which must have been Capitalism, but an end in itself. Hence, more than anything else, our Constitution was crafted purely in political jargons, and/or placated in human rights. Human rights seen more in political terms with little attention, naively or deliberately if you wish, to socio-economic rights. In the famous dictum of one of the pioneers of African liberation, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, of “Seek ye the Political Kingdom first”.
Political freedom was perceived then by him and many other pioneers of African liberation, as a sine qua non for other rights. This scenario was not akin to African liberation only, but to many a colonised peoples the world over, Latin America, Asia, you name them. Not excepting and excusing Namibia in this regard. Even ideologically, there seemed to have been consensus regarding the freedom and independence of colonised people as a necessary step towards self determination. Political self determination which for most part rarely seem to or ever intended transition into economic self determination. If ever such economic self determination was envisaged eventually, such was and seemed to have been narrowly defined in terms of economic control for the political elite, assuming that this may automatically translate into socio-economic justice for all the previously colonised people. Never did the question of ownership of the national resources and their redistribution, ever receive the requisite consideration, except in very few instances.
Likewsie, this has been the case in Namibia. Because in Namibia we have been priding ourselves in the good Constitution we have crafted, and for which we seem to have received accolades the world over, more so from our neo-colonial handlers, as new blue eyed girls and boys of African democracy. But rarely have we bothered to interrogate how long this Constitution would carry us in many other respects and aspects, especially socio-economic justice, or/and radical socio-economic transformation or in the least laying the foundation for such ultimately.
Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution, on Human Rights and Freedoms, have particularly been one of Namibia’s foremost claims to international room and fame as a democratic mover and shaker. Notwithstanding this claim to fame, there’s no denying that Namibia has to all intents and purposes remained basically a colonised country, politically, not to mention socio-economically. Because 30 years plus after constitutional and/or flag independence, socio-economically the country remains essentially a satellite, for starter, of its former colonial power, Germany, despite the illusion of cordial relations of equal partners. Secondly, of its former Apartheid occupier, now apparently a sister country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and one of its closest comradely country.
Indeed without overlooking the sacredness and guarantees of these rights and freedoms as enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Constitution. Provided they are not intrinsic in themselves. Granted that indeed the founding mothers and fathers of the Namibian Constitution could not have envisaged them as intrinsic onto themselves. But as much equally one cannot be ignorant of the fact that this is not purely a product of the ingenious crafswomanship and -manship of the founding mothers and fathers, recalling the role and intents of the Western Contact Group in this regard.
Be that as it may, today’s would-be agents of change cannot and should not allow themselves hostage to the past omissions and/or oversights of their forebears, however excusable in their times then may have been. As the saying goes each generation must define its own mission and live by it. The revealing thing of the pioneers of resistance and liberation is their ideological oversight, if not complete shyness. If not naïve realism that independence and liberation would necessarily eventually translate into socio-economic transformation. Needless to mention, the 30 years plus of Namibia’s flag independence, has been enough of a learning curve that flag independence does not necessarily brings about fundamental socio-economic transformation. Such a fundamental socio-economic transformation begets, as Marxist-Leninist would have it, a good mix of subjective and objective conditions.
In today’s Namibia, the objective conditions have been there for some time. Despite the presumed general good pertaining to the rights of the citizenry, including the workers as per the Constitution, buttressed by the Labour Act of 2007, one needs not dig deeper to see that workers are still at the sharper rough end of the socio-economic setup in the country.
Even in semi-governmental institutions, not to mention in government institutions themselves, who expectedly and ordinarily should be the champions of workers’ rights, workers have been not better off. That this has been the case is evidenced most lately by workers at the NDC Date Development Project in the South protesting in public complaining about their working conditions. One cannot but flash back to the Presidential era of HE Hifikepunye Pohamba, when he lashed out at then manager of an NDC grape project over the unbearable working conditions of workers on the project.
While on paper the country has some good guarantees and/or policies, and laws pertaining to the rights and freedoms of the general populace, such has remained for most just on paper with little impact on the general citizenry. This can largely be attributed to ideological indisposition of those needing to make these good political rights and freedoms a reality, for a starter and turning them ultimately into tangible socio-economic outcomes in terms of fundamental radical socio-economic transformation.
Ironically, those guilty of lip service only in this regard, because of ideological ignorance, indifference if not complete ideological allergy and mylitis, are the very would-be agents of change or would-be revolutionaries, wherever they may be in government, civil society, etc. The root cause is lack of class consciousness and the Constitution provides the basics which given the right ideological disposition and frame of mind, as well as political will, can indeed propels a radical fundamental socio-economic transformation and that such indeed attainable.