Our country is officially known as The Republic of Namibia. Politicians are the facilitators of the Republic and servants of the people. The life of a Republic is resilient to man-made and natural disasters and it is also flexible to change, as it is rooted in the principles of honesty and foresight.
The word republic is derived from the Latin phrase res publica, which can be translated as “the public affair” and is a state where people have the right to decide who should lead the government, which is officially apportioned to the control of the people and officials of the state are elected or appointed. A common simplified definition of a republic is that it is a form of government where the head of state is not a monarch.
Our country emerged as a hybrid of political ideologies from all over the world, perhaps explaining the ambiguous and confusing state of current affairs and prompting the question why we refer to our country as a ‘republic’ or as a multi-party democracy with a ‘mixed-economy’.
The three arms of the state, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary are the pillars of the Republic, ensuring the separation of power. However, the blurring definition of our Republic points to an executive that makes decisions and then has the legislature rubber-stamp these. The houses of parliament hardly conceptualise and initiate bills aimed at mitigating the socio-economic crises facing the masses. The decisions are dictated from the top, with the blessing of high-ranking apparatchiks to suite their particular constituencies, rather than to mitigate key areas of concern affecting the masses, irrespective of political affiliation.
The danger of such mediocre leadership, shielded by an ambiguous definition of the republic will result in a government that cannot stand the test of time. The Republic must outlive party politicking and periodical transitions of power. If this is not the case, what could happen during rapid transitions of power or major political shifts is anybody’s guess.
In a modern republic, the executive is legitimised by a Constitution and popular vote. All people must have a share in how the country is ruled, in contrast to a monarchy or dictatorship.
At the moment, Namibia is not independent enough to decide its own destiny and economic prosperity, particularly in the wake of the world economic crisis, high unemployment rate, poverty or homelessness. Our basic dilemma is that the leadership of the state is partisan, both in composition and in the allocation of state projects.
In my view Namibia is a republic only in form, but not in essence. The term ‘republic’ implies a system of government which derives its power and legitimacy from the people, rather than from political heredity or divine right.
The wind will blow away a grass hut and water will sweep away a house built on sand. A house, in this case the Republic of Namibia, should be built on solid ground. It should outlast the narrow geo-political interests of egocentric politicians who thrive on greed, lust for power and sheer ignorance of the need to ensure the survival of the country as a whole. The law of gravity dictates that everything that goes up must come down.
In a republic political ideologies and parties are not immortal. They wither with time, just like stones in the desert turn to sand over time. The bottom-line is that Namibia is not being built as a solid republic that can survive to accommodate the next generation.
Nothing is permanent, except change. Smart leaders are those that strive to change and improve as time passes.