Double speak will take us nowhere

By Sibangani Dube
February 2013
Editors Note
The year has just begun and it’s good to be back. Typical of this period, everyone is often consumed with settling down for serious business in all stratas of the society.

The year-start usually has many firsts. For some, it may be their first time to go to school. As it is, the class of 2025 is already warming its benches having gone through the drama of beginning a new life. For others, it may be their first year at university. Yet for others, it may be their post-graduate year; Masters’ degree or that PhD they just couldn’t get done.

For businesspeople, however, it’s always all about scanning the environment, looking for those ‘good’ business opportunities. For some businesspeople, it is about re-aligning priorities to optimise the utilisation of the available resources to get maximum returns.

Unfortunately, most may have to close shop and move on; that’s if they missed the steps of keeping up with the business trends last year. All these [and more] may punctuate our business environments but no matter what happens, we should never lose the lessons previously learnt.

I have huge admiration and respect for businesspeople who have made a conscious decision to “put their thoughts and words into action”.

We all know that talk is cheap. But these men and women often take a plunge and swim against the currents (they must be made of very stern material!). Let’s salute them for they add value, create wealth and employment opportunities; both directly and indirectly. They also promote overall economic growth!

Talking about the latter, Namibia has great potential to spur economic growth but like one business-minded individual once warned, ‘if potential is not utilised, it turns into pain’.

Even at a very personal level, if you fail to utilise your potential, it will sooner or later turn into pain - often born out of regrets - “If only...” “I wish I would have...”! Hey, when it’s all gone, it’s gone! You just have to find a way to get back up with tonnes of grace.

It is almost becoming a cliché that the Namibian government has some of the best policies and frameworks to enhance business operations. But, the selective approach or the bending of rules to suit personal interests of some individuals is steadily becoming a norm and we are worried.

There is a tripartite alliance between Government, employers and the workers. The former usually has a mandate to create the framework. Unfortunately, some people within the Government are forever busy undoing those frameworks. This, therefore, calls for a deeper look into our Government and public sector officials and their professional ethics. They need to resist the temptations of human nature, which are usually inflated when money is involved.

Funny how people won’t stop quoting Vision 2030 during public forums of prepared speeches but at most, it all ends there.

How do we know those are the results on the ground? The figures need to speak for themselves.

Realistically, results will always tell you something is either right or wrong. We can ask ourselves: How many jobs have we created? How many companies have been started (not fly-by-nights, because they add very little value)? It’s only one or two of those, which might get the big cheques at the end of the day. Sadly, it turns out that the corrupt are the deal-makers, as the practice seems to become more lucrative by the day.

Is this what we want Namibia to turn into? No! But as it stands, it has become a worldwide phenomenon that the private sector is the biggest employer while governments create the much needed space for enterprises.

In our case, the Government is the biggest employer. This sends very wrong signals because the scales should be tipped the other way round and the time is now!

It is sad (to say the least) that while there are toilet paper-making companies in Namibia employing hundreds of Namibians, for example, some officials see it fit to cancel the tenders and opt to buy mere toilet papers from South African companies, so that they can get a cut when the deals are sealed. Who monitors the procurement process to ensure compliance, if I may ask?

Our challenge, therefore, is to tame our appetites for get-rich-quick schemes that might be at the expense of enhancing economic growth and development. It’s time we got real and put Namibia first above all else in terms of business to the people.

Honourable Kaapanda, we need you to up the game on nationhood and lay to rest ‘tenderhood’ and opaque schemes.
Until next time, have a very blessed year ahead. PF