New Era (Windhoek)

8 November 2012

Namibia: Our Clarion Call for a Developmental State

opinion

CLEARHEADED political thespians hardly use international visits for soul mesmerizing. They observe trends and tides with a view to learn and unlearn towards their nation states' development.

Such is a state of mind as I attend the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing. Resolution 113 of the 5th SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) conspicuously noted, "with concern Namibia's weak and less visible participation in international affairs. Congress urges Government to play a more active, visible and leading role in international politics in general and international institutions in particular, to influence international opinion and politics in the right direction."

As such, SPYL Secretary for International Affairs, Comrade Edward Kafita, recently attended the solidarity conference of the ANC in South Africa, where he made an outstanding political input according to internationalists in attendance.

Earlier, SPYL Deputy Secretary, Comrade Veikko Nekundi, and the SPYL Secretary in Oshana Region, Comrade Matilde Nakwedhi, attended the congress of Chama Cha Mapunduzi Youth League in Tanzania to deliver the SPYL solidarity message.

All these are efforts to "to play a more active, visible and leading role in international politics in general and international institutions in particular, to influence international opinion and politics in the right direction."

Let us return to China. At the time of writing, I am still in southern China, moving around cities such as Dongguan, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. On November 3rd we were taken to a shoe manufacturing factory, Huajian. Established at the Chinese village by Zhang Huarong in 1984 after he retired from the army, it had 18 employees and 3 sewing machines.

Today Huajian produces 80 million pairs of shoes per year with various factories around China. At the invitation of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2011, Huajian established another factory in Ethiopia that started its production on January 5, 2012.

Huajian has a total of 24 000 workers including 1400 in Ethiopia. 90% of the employees in Ethiopia are local, producing 100 000 pairs of shoes per month. 90% of Huajian exports are to the US. When we asked him why he chose Ethiopia, Zhang Huarong argues that apart from policy and the good environment in general and government driven development efforts of the Ethiopian government in particular, he understands that the African people need jobs. Zhang Huarong values state directed development. His conclusion was of course that great policy direction needs to be set by government saying "economics and politics need to be connected."

China succeeded with state directed development in general and the developmental state in particular. Those that read Global Political Economy know that states like Botswana, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Venezuela are all developmental states.

They used their resources, not for individual accumulation like in Namibia, for industrialization, free higher education, social safety nets and other public goods. Evidence is that the Human Development Index is high in developmental states and low in poor capitalist states such as Namibia.

SPYL is immaculate on the obligatory economic direction of our country. Our policy position paper on the economy, the developmental state, tabled at the first SPYL Policy Conference held on May 31st 2012 and the SPYL 5th congress and used as a basis for our economic arguments at the SWAPO Party policy conference, provides a path towards a developmental state.

This suffices to conclude that the Economic Revolution will come by any means necessary. It took us 22 years to secure 5 percent of the economy from the Whiteman and a rough mathematical calculation indicates the remaining 95 percent to be obtained after 418 years, at the current rate. Namibian youth aren't prepared to wait that long. King Mandume yaNdemufayo left a message we are taking seriously that "slavery and death are one and the same". We also drink from the wisdom directives of Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi when he said "a leader should prepare for war or peace."

60 percent of Namibia is youth and 75 percent of these youth are unemployed!

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