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Holding the vision in the second phase of the struggle

By Paul T. Shipale
I would like to talk about holding the vision in the Second phase of the Struggle for Economic Emancipation, largely borrowing from a paper presented by Dr Pallo Jordan, a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, to the political education programme of the ANC parliamentary caucus, on the topic of "Nation and Class" and the sociological transformation South Africa underwent.

His Excellency, President Pohamba, at the opening of the 3rd Session of the 5th Parliament, urged the Namibian people to pause to reflect and ponder about our common future and the direction in which our nation is going. The President said "This introspection is necessary to stay focused, remain on the right track, sharpen our approaches and ensure effectiveness".

This time around, while delivering his State of the Nation address, the President said "I will use this occasion to report on the implementation of Government policies in the passing Financial Year, reflect on Government's planned activities in the new Financial Year and to underscore our resolve to make Namibia stronger, more prosperous and more united for the benefit of all our people."

The Media copiously elaborated on the State of the Nation Address, describing it as one of the best ever the President delivered since his inauguration as our Head of State and I couldn't agree more. It is true that it was neither a dull, overlong speech nor an ill-prepared monologue, as it attempted to excavate the rich history of our country and made references to what binds the nation together rather than what separates it.

I was expecting a plan encapsulated into main points under a common theme. Nevertheless, I am happy that in his concluding remarks the President said "Our nation is on the move. We have taken irreversible steps towards building a safer, more inclusive, united and more prosperous society. We must continue to hold hands and work harder to achieve our common objectives. The challenges we face must be turned into opportunities for development, advancement and empowerment of our communities.

We are determined to ensure that we address the socioeconomic needs of our youth, women, the rural poor, senior citizens, orphans, workers and our people who live in rural areas and informal settlements.

We are determined to make Namibia a winning nation!" That alone, makes this State of the Nation address one of his best ever.

Surely, the little publicity stunt when the RDP staged a walkout to snub the President, left a bitter taste and it was an immature and ill conceived political move as under the model of the separation of powers, also known as trias politica, the state is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility. The head of State was invited by the legislature to account on the State of the Nation. In addition, we have the principle that the judiciary should be politically insulated from the legislative and the executive power. That is, the courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government, or from private or partisan interests.

The opposition should have known better and their little publicity stunt just proved that they are not capable of ruling this country.

To link that to my subject matter, we might probably be conversant with the SWAPO's Tanga Consultative Conference in the early 1970's just like the ANC Morogoro Consultative Conference held in Tanzania in 1969 that adopted the "Strategy and Tactics" document which identified the central contradiction in both countries as the contradiction between the colonised majority consisting of blacks, and coloureds as well as Indians in the case of South Africa on the one hand, and the white minority settler-colonial regime on the other hand. This contradiction expressed itself in racial terms and the then liberation movements agreed that this contradiction would not be resolved by the colonial racist regime reforming itself out of existence because not only did the oppressed and the oppressor occupied the same territories in a special settler-colonialism, but also because this contradiction required a popular struggle for the attainment of freedom and Independence and the creation of a democratic state.

Against this background, it is clear that in the view of our movements, apartheid was not just reduced to its mundane but highly visible 'Whites only' signs but also meant a system of minority rule based on monopolisation not only of political power but also on conquest and institutionalised dispossession of the indigenous people of their land and its wealth through the Native Land Acts of 1913, the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936 and the Group Areas Act of 1950. As a result, and in addition to the monopoly on political power, the white minority acquired an undisguised monopoly over the economic power of lands, mines, industry, finance and commerce. Consequently, the propertied classes were virtually exclusively minority white while the black majority on the whole, owned little or no property at all.

It was also agreed that the system entailed coercive methods of labour exploitation and an additional system of laws, such as the poll and hut tax, which were created to deny access rights to our people. In addition to that, a myriad of laws were passed to compel Africans to work for others as well as measures such as the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923 aimed at controlling and compelling the African people to make themselves available as cheap labour power. Lastly, it was argued that this system had to be repressive in order to function. As a result, the black majority was governed as a conquered people, and as subjects with no claim to rights.

Based on these compelling arguments and analysis, the liberation movements concluded that an economic system with specific character based on the private ownership of land, mines, commerce, etc, was imposed and referred to as racial and national oppression found in a number of socio-economic and developmental indicators such as poverty, poor health and poor sanitation, little or no access to clean water and electricity, high levels of illiteracy and innumeracy, unsafe living conditions etc. Therefore, the movements resolved to end the system of racial oppression to change precisely those economic and social circumstances.

In this regard, the content of freedom and independence would be a radical transformation of our societies so as to expand the economic and social rights of the oppressed majority. Hence also the notion and concept of nation building and such phraseology as 'we' and 'our people' jointly and collectively as opposed to the racist and white only regime as well as the many so called Bantustans 'nations' and races supposedly constantly in conflict with one another with the apartheid system controlling those conflicts. Of course, we knew that it was not true that apartheid brought racial harmony;

in fact, it was apartheid that generated conflict. Unadorned by the slick rhetoric they acquired, the architects of apartheid, through JG Strijdom, unabashedly proclaimed to the whites only parliament in 1955 that; "call it paramountcracy, baaskap or what you will, it is still domination...I am being as blunt as I can. I am making no excuses. Either the white man dominates or the black man takes over...the only way the white man can maintain domination is by withholding the vote from non-European."

Against this background, when our people attended the different Pan-African Congresses and Conferences, they encountered a large network of other Anti-colonial liberation movements and appreciations that we were not alone and our position was neither unique nor unusual, fostered an ethic of solidarity and underscored the need to create synergies. In our environment, where gender, racial oppression and rural exclusion were intertwined with class exploitation, led to the organic coalescence of these currents around a common programme and cause. The question that begs for an answer now, especially two decades after Independence and the transitional phase of consolidating our gains and Nation building, is to find out how far we have achieved our goals and if at all there is a need to redefine our strategy and enter into the next phase of the struggle for Economic emancipation. Historically, societies have been divided into classes that separate those who are dominant and rule from those who are subordinate and are ruled.

One of the objective definition of class according to Lenin in "VI, A Great Beginning", defines classes as "large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production by their relation to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and consequently, by the dimension of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it."

If we subscribe to that definition of class, we will underscore certain features when we analyse our society prior to our independence and freedom.

What is particularly striking is that this class of people came into existence in a colonial setting in which a minority white people from Europe had conquered the black majority and dispossessed our people of their land while employing divideand- rule tactics driving our people out of their fertile grazing land into the periphery. In these conditions, race was used by the dominant classes to protect their exclusive rights and class interests. True we had all these classes and strata in our movements in pursuit of different objectives. Some joined the struggle to acquire their disposed land rights, as well as the right to a decent life, a shelter, health, and education but nonetheless all these classes were sharing a common objective. These classes are not necessarily in conflict today, that means, even black people could choose to become entrepreneurs.

Indeed, the cause for freedom found a home in the national liberation movements which championed the cause for democracy, consequently, our broad movement for liberation has since long taken in both nationalist and class issues. It has gender, class and other dimensions that interpenetrate and influence one another because one of the outstanding features of the movement has been its capacity to encompass all these trends within its ranks on the basis of a common acceptance and embrace of unity of action and purpose however varied their class, gender and ideological positions.

Throughout our struggle, the forces of division have continuously sought to separate these trends and to set them at loggerheads and thus divide and weaken the movement but what they forget is that the movement has been the most consistent advocate of an inclusive nationhood thanks to the visionary, consistent and pragmatic leadership, and in the case of Namibia it was thanks to the leadership of our Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma who sustained and provided coherence to our broad movement tempered in the heat of our mass struggles of the time.

Even during the most enduring upheavals, he spearheaded the struggle and brought together the different forces that coalesced around a common objective.

It is thus befitting that we honour him with a 12 of May movement to celebrate his legacy and draw lessons from his illustrious life as a symbol of nationhood, and sovereignty as well as a torchbearer of the struggle that he inherited from our forbearers.

Today, one of the impediments to our prosperity is the underdevelopment of the productive forces. We import food because we are underutilising our agricultural and land capacity.

We have shanty towns, because we are not using our capacity to build more shelters. We have large-scale unemployment, because our economy is not absorbing new job-seekers.

For this reason, our captains of industries, black or white, have interest in expanding the productive capacity of our country. We submit this is also in the interest of our working class, those living in rural areas as well as the whites and females.

Indeed, as President Pohamba said, now is the right time to pause to reflect and ponder about our common future and the direction in which our nation is going. For that to happen, we need to move gears to the second phase of the struggle for economic independence.

That is the only way we will be able to truly honour all our brave sons and daughters whose blood water our freedom, from the legendary anti colonial wars of resistance to our gallant jungle fighters, including our workers and all those who died in Cassinga and elsewhere and who inspired us by their heroism and sustained our struggle until we attained our freedom and genuine independence on the 21st March 1990.

Let us keep the Vision of liberation in the Second phase of the Struggle for economic independence.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura