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The tide has gone out for public trust in Namibian leadership

The tide has gone out for public trust in Namibian leadership

By Natasja Beyleveld, Managing Director of NaMedia.

“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out” (2001, Warren Buffet).

Buffet also said that executives should only eat what they kill. Namibians have gone through a tough test of faith in political leadership during the past few months, and introspection is doing its rounds everywhere. What am I doing about it (at work/home) and why (finding the truth)?

The real kick in the stomach has been the loss of trust, which begs us to question the price of ambition and output amidst millions unaccounted for, and more coming in. When leaders have “eaten” more than they have ‘killed’ via mandate, Namibians become one in the seemingly perpetual disparity game of open-ended questions.

We all work hard for what we earn, and it matters when thinking about every tax dollar paid that remains unseen in health care and education facilities. When trust is lost, it is no easy road to regain and earn public support and participation. The once admirable and enthusiastic public-private partnerships then become like spilled honey, initially sweet but quickly deplorable because it takes so long to clean up the sticky mess.

I am an optimist at heart and people-minded for sure. I am not here to tempt you into a pity party. We are finally being realistic and honest across all media platforms, and it is refreshing. Plato’s veil of ignorance has been lifted. Moreover, it is from this very moment that we must appreciate everything that we see differently, and how that helps us to do better. You do need to be honest about why and for whom you are doing better.

A democracy entitles us to dream together, and to believe together. I am against the lingering of tribalism and racism – it is convenient scapegoats for delving into the past rather than living and creating new paths in the presence. It is denial of responsibility to just be a good human and to stop judging or projecting your own fears onto others. You will be required to become a good negotiator and sometimes mediator. Yes, you need to learn that you too, must compromise at times, as will those that you are in the arena with.

If we want to see the men and women on the side of the road live a good life, it must be co-created into something sustainable – and we have not found that magic recipe yet, other than lamenting for a spirit of entrepreneurship to swiftly elevate every jobless person into spheres success. This is easily said when we can hardly perceive, nor conceive the concept of true scarcity and poverty nor hunger. Giving. To give is not the problem – to give responsibly with the commitment to support and grow individuals or organisations is where the responsibility comes in. Creating a better hospital, a better school, a better house, a better job.

The tide has gone out, and we saw many naked people. We have seen some yachts lying stranded and no wind will help those sails, some boats without oars and people naked truth perhaps, unveiling restless Namibians that are hungry, angry and want to be heard.

It is clear that most everybody has dealt with the same emotions; anger, distrust. It is also clear that we want to pick up the scraps and fight for the political and economical health of this country. This will to fight is evident in most all of the companies’ public training camps and engagement opportunities at schools, campuses, and events. I love that optimism, I learn from it and I find courage from that.

Companies building houses, running clean-up campaigns, consciously recycling, creating feasible investment solutions – they are working hard to create something that makes life better for others. When you are actively making life better for others, are you not ultimately making life better for each other? The public sector needs to learn from these examples, and change. Our next generation should have better roots to draw from. We’re not a Zimbabwe or South Africa, nor do we want to be.

The Keepers must rather move into Goal position, and score back the points we have lost. Let us learn from Buffet and only eat what we kill. If we stand in the shoes of the owners – of all the people of Namibia – if we truly weigh whether the capital cost of a project was worth the potential results with conviction, then we have created a big incentive to bet on our leadership abilities. When the project bears fruits and eventually dividends – that money should not be seen as a “right” to squander, but rather a responsibility to nurture it, invest wisely and grow for the legacy we leave for the next generations of Namibians.

It is as simple as that – but we all need be reminded from time to time. My honest opinion, if you are in politics it should not be to play a wealth game, it is much more important to focus on keeping your nation sane. Rita Mae Brown said; “The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they’re ok, then it’s you.” Let us be sane in how we spend every tax dollar, and how we participate in ‘sane’ business deals. There’s no room for ‘zula’. Get back to the basics, get your hands dirty and let’s get started.




About The Author

Natasja Beyleveld

Natasja Beyleveled, the Managing Director of Namedia (Namibia Media Monitoring) has her finger on the pulse of many large corporations and leading institutions. It is her job to track her clients' media profiles, advising them on PR strategies to either boost positive developments or contain public image damage. She first became a prominent figure as the Young Namibian Businesswoman of the Year 2013.