Political Philosophy lays a foundation in the formation of state institutions. Western political philosophy dominated the social and political economics of the world from the domestic to international level. The ideas of Marxism, liberalism and socialism have contributed to the modern state.
Current scholars and statesmen of Africa took African political philosophy as the traditional values and ethics, which are limited to history.
This lead to the failure of the African statesmen to solve their domestic challenges, using the western tools of analysis only under principles of democracy. The tools of analysis are from Western political philosophy which is based on the historical events and manuscripts of orators, courtiers and kings judgments of the ancient time. The values are then enshrined in the jurisprudence system, the state architecture of African states which Namibia is not an exception.
During my time of research, I came across the heated debate in the South African political space. The debate is based on the exchange of views between the South African minister of tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu and deputy chief justice of South African Constitutional Court, Raymond Zondo.
The controversial debate was provoked by an opinion piece written by Sisulu in IOL on 7 January 2022 titled ‘Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?’. It questioned the rule of law, the inability of South African legal institutions to solve a social problem and the economic inequality.
It also questioned the black legal professionals and their inability to use the constitution for economic reconciliation. The acting chief justice responded via a press conference, appeared angry and into what many saw as a political battle based on personalities and not content. Is the African judiciary system anti-pan-Africanism?
Despite some political commentators’ views of both rivals interested in their future ambitions, one is facing the 2022 ANC elective conference and the other one for future appointment as chief justice, it is imperative to note that the content of Sisulu’s article is rich in content and is a lesson that Namibia learns from.
Whether Sisulu is gunning for a higher political position or not, the fact remains she released educative and informative information, which shows the stand of pan-African institutions and values.
In political psychology, when a leader accepts criticism as content without involving personality and ego, he or she can make sound judgments and acknowledge the lenses of analysis.
Genesis of economic inequality
The arrival of Jan van Riebeeck on 6 April 1652 in Cape of Good Hope marked the beginning of an economic loss of indigenous black South Africans. Parallel to that, the economic transaction of Kaptein Josef Friedriks II of Bethanie and Franz Adolf Luderitz in 1883, shaped the current economic relationship between the governed and the governor in Namibia.
According to the World Bank, Namibia is the second highest with wealth inequality in the world with gini-index of 59.1. How did we arrive here and what can we do about it? The unpragmatic economic approaches, unpragmatic academic approaches and skills mismatch are not a product of African initiatives, but African people who are willing to help themselves but do not trust their African knowledge and their applications in a modern state.
In this case, it is imperative to note that madam Sisulu is not a demagogue, however, she is an African philosopher who in this regard released provocative truth, which could help us in shaping the developmental agenda and we can learn from it.
The pan-African lenses
In analysing the book published in 1985 titled ‘Economic Development Strategies for Independent Namibia’, shows the positive intentions for the economic development of the Namibian state before independence. It is stated, “Namibia will be expected to select its road path to economic salvation in keeping with national requirements resources and ideologies and traditions of its people”.
In the current economic situation, we need again to use the lenses of Sisulu to analyse what went wrong. Ask Namibian lawyers in Namibia, ask them how we can go about Article 16 of the Namibian Constitution then you understand who is in charge. According to Sisulu, the Africans are managing poverty while others are managing wealth.
Pragmatic applications of African philosophy to African institutions help the betterment of ordinary citizens. To solve the institutional challenge, we must accept that even when we criticise such critical institutions, we must understand the uncomfortable, which comes with the transformation of the institutions to arrest the economic inequality challenge.
The criticism of the judiciary system is important for democracy just like scrutinising the media and academia. In strategic management, the tools shall fit for the course for the achievement of the end means.
The help of the Africans is inside the hearts of the African leaders, scholars and businesspersons. The comprehending of political philosophy allows pragmatic application and advancement of Namibians. A good leader is one who understands the differences between the two philosophical content, and finds commonalities to serve his constituency.
*David F Shoombe holds a BA (Honours) in political science and history (Unam). He is a Yali Alumnus in Public Management and Governance. He is a 2019 Best Overall performer of the YLDP Fellowship. He is the treasurer for Khomas Regional Youth Forum. He writes in his capacity.