The balance of forces in the second phase of the struggle for economic independence Part II SWAPO - The balance of forces in the second phase of the struggle for economic independence Part II

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The balance of forces in the second phase of the struggle for economic independence Part II

By Paul T. Shipale
The middle stratum; A section within this stratum that we should also pay particular attention to are students and young professionals, entrepreneurs and cultural activists.

Many of them, having been the first generation experiencing integration in education (at schools and universities), have less of the hang-ups of the older generations, are more confident with a definite global sense and are technology savvy. They are the direct beneficiaries of freedom and our affirmative action policies. This sector also includes students at universities and tertiary institutions, the future professionals, public servants and artisans. Consideration also needs to be given to the proposals of sending many more of them out of the country for studies and experience, something which our bilateral relations with many countries should facilitate.

The core of a patriotic bourgeoisie; We have, though in a limited form, expanded the number of emerging black capitalists as a product of democratic change and a direct creation of the task of deracialising the economy. Given this objective interest they have been regarded as part of the motive forces. They must therefore contribute towards changing the structure of the economy, adding value to: industrialisation and the development of national productive capacity; research, innovation, productivity, technology and skills development; job creation, labour intensive sectors and local economic development; equality and social justice; regional and continental economic integration; and, South-South economic cooperation.

However, the dependence of this stratum on white and multinational capital and the state, makes some susceptible to pursue narrow interests, which may not always be in the interest of economic transformation.

What about the various strata and classes in the white community? Democratisation and the success of Nation-building are in both the short and longterm interest of the white community in our country. This is however not always reflected in their national consciousness or voting patterns, with many still feeling threatened by transformation, actively campaigning against it, underpinned by skepticism about the capabilities of a black government. These contradictions take place in a democratic order. We are no longer locked in mortal combat, but engaging in legitimate discourse and electoral politics. We must therefore continue to engage with various strata and interests within the white community on our national vision. This brings us to the issue of race, and how racism is compounded by corruption both in the public and private sectors.

In this regard, I wish to reiterate an observation made that hinders nation-formation and nation-building is, for instance, the conduct of BEE front men and women. Inversely, this also becomes a convenient excuse on the part of some in the white community with their warped rationalization to critique from the sidelines saying; let's exaggerate their weaknesses; we can't make common cause with "them"; we can't sacrifice for the common good because "they" are corrupt. This attitude and the rhetoric used by some BEE front-men and women to mask greed and ostentation, feed into one another: with the white spiritual emigration and a pretentious African nationalism of convenient victimhood as two sides of the same coin.

Our approach to private capital; our Strategy and Tactics should describe the relationship with private (mainly white) capital as unity and struggle of opposites - of cooperation and contestation - in the quest to transform the structure of, and grow, the economy. Globally - whether it is in the Asian developmental states, the social democratic states, or even socialism with Chinese characteristics - in order to achieve a national developmental vision, the participation of private capital is inevitable.

Such participation is sought voluntarily through engagement and social pacts, combined with regulation, through allocation of capital and through the state leading and directing industrialisation and the development of priority economic sectors, including ownership in one form or another in such sectors.

It includes challenging and engaging monopoly capital to the extent that they are an obstacle to our national vision (by, for example, blocking new entrants into various sectors of the economy) as well as with regards our quest to build social justice and reduce inequality.

Obstacles to transformation; Opposition to political consolidation and socio-economic transformation may not only come from various national or social strata and classes. It may also be the result of material (our productive capacity and state of industrialisation, global productive forces, availability of agricultural land) and subjective conditions (e.g. a low-skilled workforce, poor performing education and health systems, or a culture of greed and corruption). We must therefore identify and engage with these factors as they relate to the central task in the current phase - i.e. our second phase of the struggle for socioeconomic transformation. This is important so as to develop strategies that are realistic and aimed at achieving our objectives, even when we have to take mitigating steps.

Other macro trends; There are other macro trends that may not necessarily be obstacles, depending on policy responses such as our youth bulge given the demographic changes. The situation of young people in our country, and particularly of youth unemployment, has been described as explosive.

Every year, thousands of young people leave or drop out of school, and more than half of them are unable to find jobs or further education and training opportunities, and join the ranks of the unemployed or discouraged. And yet, this represents us with a great opportunity, to tap the energy and creativity of the new generations.

Another macro trend is that of migration. The challenge of rapid urbanisation is something planners and local and regional governments deal with on a daily basis. Our focus has been on the challenge this poses to urban and peri-urban areas, but it should also be noted other migration trends in rural areas, including considerable mobility, the expansion and densification of rural informal settlements, and an emerging trend of rural populations concentrated along transport corridors.

There are other areas of social transformation where we face similar challenges, such as the spatial legacy of apartheid which continues to weigh on the entire country. In general, the poorest people live in remote rural areas. In the cities, the poorest live far from places of work and economic activity. This adds to the challenges of providing infrastructure in support of economic activity. Reversing the effects of spatial apartheid will be an ongoing challenge in the decades ahead. Thus we must pay single-minded and undivided attention towards overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality. This is what our second transition must be about.

Our National Development Plans with the infrastructure plan, industrial policies and the interventions in the minerals sector points towards the emergence of core elements of our national developmental trajectory over the next five decades. Thus, the characterisation of the Society as a democracy with social content, within the specific context of the racial, class and gender legacies of the past, should form the basis of our second transition.

The first priority of economic policy should therefore be to achieve rising per capita income, full employment, a Gini index target that demonstrate real and visible progress in reducing wealth and income inequalities, and visible progress in changing racial and patriarchal patterns of wealth and income. This will require an economic development model that takes account of our natural endowments in the form of minerals and our strategically positioned coastline, as well as building on and expanding existing capacity in manufacturing and services. We need to use these endowments to usher in new era of industrialisation and development.

Such an era should not only see downstream and upstream beneficiation of our mineral wealth, the expansion of the manufacturing sector through localisation and sector strategies but also the growth of agriculture, agro-processing, land reform and rural development to ensure food security and alleviate rural poverty, building a maritime industry, and the growth of the knowledge economy.

How we will achieve the optimal mix in all sectors, but especially in mining and finance, must and should be part of our discussions on economic policy. In addition, in the mining, based on plans for industrialisation driven by mining; we will have to adopt a mixed approach in this sector as well. The real question is therefore whether our current Mineral Act makes provision for the different types of ownership characteristic of a mixed economy, in addition to private ownership? How does this relate to and facilitate our infrastructure development plans over the next years?

Other proposals to increase employment and growth include strengthening innovation policy; improving functioning of the labour market through reforms and specific proposals concerning dispute resolution and discipline, to help the economy absorb more labour; supporting small business through better coordination in the different agencies, the development of finance institutions, and SME incubators; improving the skills base through improved education and training; increasing investment in social and economic infrastructure to lower costs, raise productivity and bring more people into the mainstream; reducing the regulatory burden in sectors where the private sector is a main investor; a comprehensive ICT policy as an input to economic and social development and as a driving sector of innovation; improving state capacity to effectively implement economic policy.

Democracy with social content also means that people must be regarded as a fundamental resource that is central to the development of the economy, society and the nation as a whole. Our approach to social transformation must therefore be people-centred by involving people in their own development, through the public provision of a minimum package of publicly delivered transfers, goods and services known as a 'social floor', and by providing a safety net for the most vulnerable.

This includes providing basic rights to shelter, food security, health services, education, water and sanitation, and a social security network. It also includes other programmes such as culture, community safety and sports and involves a focus on the values of caring, excellence; cooperation and solidarity that we want to build as part of the social capital for social and economic transformation. When we talk about the state in the broad sense, we include its geographic integrity and security; government including parliament, legislatures, local government and the executive structures in different spheres, the public service and state entities; the judiciary, institutions protecting democracy and the security forces; as well as the Constitution and the body of laws and policies. In a narrow sense we should include the three arms of government and the public sector. Whether in a broad or narrow sense, we have committed ourselves to building a democratic and developmental state that plays a driving role in the social and economic development of the country. In the realm of ideology and the battle of ideas; we need new values and mores that place humanism above greed, because without such broad cultural transformation, even the efforts aimed at changing material conditions will in the long run, but certainly, fail.

The ideological engagements in this era are therefore about the very foundations of the Society we are constructing, including the identity of an inclusive nation, its unity and diversity, its cultures, languages, history and values. The ideological struggle also needs ongoing engagement with progressive alternatives, our challenges and solutions, and how these contribute towards global progressive humanity. Finally, given our commitment to Pan-Africanism, the ideological struggle must also have a continental dimension around African self-determination and against foreign interference and geopolitics.

Our role on the African continent should contribute towards the renewal of the continent, in practical and theoretical terms, including strengthening the continental institutions, building and expanding the progressive forces and people centred development.

In short, let us have a clear agenda of building a developmental state.

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.


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