Govt must diffuse rising political, economic anger

THE rising political and economic anger which is beginning to manifest itself in protests such as the ‘shutdown China Town’ need urgent intervention which could be through dialogue with political leaders and activist groups.

We say so bearing in mind the implications of such anger, which could, if not well managed, degenerate into something bigger than what we are witnessing today.

Already in a space of seven days, we have seen the arrest of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement’s Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters member Michael Amushelelo among others, teargassing and rubber bullet usage by the Namibian police and a recurrent shutdown China Town protest.

This amplifies what we have seen in the past weeks where black economic emancipation associations, the Black Business Leadership Network of Namibia (BBLNN) and Northern Local Business Association (NALOBA) have been formed making the anger and frustration around the Namibian economy even heard much louder.

What we have seen and what authorities have to understand is that political anger lowers citizens’ trust in the national government, causing people to view it with hostility, skepticism and outright contempt. Due to the increasingly national focus of politics, that anger is often directed at President Hage Geingob’s administration which plunges investor confidence in Namibia.

It also creates a governance problem, as previous reports have demonstrated, trust facilitates bipartisan lawmaking and support for social welfare programmes that seek to make society more equitable, among other policies.

Namibians’ trust in government has been declining for some time now and this is not being addressed as aggressively as it should be by a caring government.

The declining trust has also been exacerbated by various questionable actions by government agencies such as the destruction of N$5 million worth of counterfeits good by Namra recently and the contentious FIMA bill which was outrightly rejected by the public in recent weeks.

Angry people tend to negatively judge the source of their anger. So when politicians continually label each other with crude epithets and infuriate people by taking – or not taking – certain actions, the public responds by lowering their evaluations of government.

Eventually, and as we see more and more in this day, they question what government is even capable of.

All in all anger is corrosive.

It diminishes the quality of Namibian democracy well after the politicians who used anger as a campaign strategy have won and left office. We thus are of the same view as opposition leader, McHenry Venaani who has in the past week called for the Prime Minister to bring the minority parties together for dialogue reminding us of what such isolated incidences did to Tunisia.