The new normal surely begets ideological policies

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Given the ideological backlog of 30 years plus, during which the ideological content of many of the government’s programmes have been in the backburner, it is time that Namibia’s ideologues and adherents and believers in the Marxist-Leninist ideology, come to the party and subject every government policy, programme and framework to an ideological test and standard.

To see to what extent any of them are a true departure from the status quo of capitalism, or intended to usher in a new era of ideology, accompanied by socialist oriented policies and programmes meant to meaningfully address the many legacies and socio-economic ills of settler capitalist colonialism.

With the buzzword in the current era and aura of Covid-19, a new normal, Namibia as also now needs to enter a new era or normal in ideology. Where every aspect of socio-economic endeavour is no longer generalised or taken on face value. That policies have an ideological perspective and content.

Since independence Namibia has been crafting, and continues to craft out so many policies and programmes, all pretended and proffered to address the untenable socio-economic situation that has been prevalent in the country. But few if any can hardly be said to have had any practical impact on the ground. In terms of, in the least, alleviating poverty and squalor, and at best uplifting those needing uplifting and empowerment, the workers.

Should any of the policies have been misguided, and/or misdirected, than at least their unintended and unforeseen consequences must have been positive and not negative and/or retrogressive. It is hard to put a pulse on many of the Namibian policies in various sectors.

As much as it is hard to point out any that 30 years after independence have been effective in one way or another. It is not hard to see why few, if any of the Namibian policies, in whatever sector, have been a success. Because ideologically they have been void and bankrupt if not ambivalent. Simply because they have not been based on any ideological premise other than on an identified generalised or presumed problem.

One such sector is land reform and redistribution, encompassing resettlement. The tangible results of land reform in Namibia remains today, 30 years after independence, disappointingly wanting. Simply because it is based on an ambivalent philosophy and ideology. In fact rather than being based on a specific philosophy and ideology, it has remained haphasardly programmatic.

Meaning there is no philosophical and/or ideological justification and/or inspiration why land should be reformed. Like reforming it to ensure that those whose land was confiscated, and were displaced from it, hence the claim for ancestral land, are in one way or the other practicable and just, compensated for such displacement and/or loss of land.

Equally there has been no clear resettlement policy based on philosophy and ideology on land the state has been acquiring. Not to mention the fact that land acquisition has been at best dubious, based on the very same free market concept of willing seller and willing buyer, itself a product of the very same capitalist mode of production that responsible for the alienation of people from their land.

Resulting in the current landlessness and land hunger in the country. As a result those who mostly have been and are being resettled, are suspected cronies of the political elite. While those with historical claims to land, either because of displacement from ancestral land, and/or by virtue of one or the other trade disposition, like traditional farming, have been sidelined.

After years of futile agitation on land by those with historical affinity to the land question, the Second National Land Conference was held in 2018. By some divine intervention, following lobbying by some land activists/traditionalists, with some boycotting, the conference emerged, to the disbelieve of many landless and land-starved Namibians, with a resolution on an ancestral land commission. The report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution is today with the President. As they say, if experience of many previous presidential commissions, the rest may be history.

But land reform and redistribution policy is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many sectoral policies in Namibia seeming to die a natural death before they are even see the daylight.

Either because of non-implementation, mis-implementation but foremost basically because the problems they have been formulated to address, either has not been identified properly, and/or they have been implemented inappropriately or wrongly with unintended consequences.

But the fundamental problem has been addressing a problem rooted in the legacy of capitalism with the same capitalist remedy which in the first place its root cause. Thus it does not even help if we revisit and review most of the policies without reviewing and/or revisiting if at best not overhauling the pertaining mother system, capitalism.

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