African politics for a long time has thrived on the wait and see attitude to problems. This has been the notion that was used ever since the colonial times when most colonisers in African failed to feel the breeze that the wave of change was blowing to their comfortable homes.
The colonial masters never at one point though it would have been reasonable to give the native people a few civil liberties so they can feel like they are at the same level with them.
Somewhat that ignorance towards reality from the colonisers later gave Africa its independence through courage to challenge the world order.
Many African leaders including Namibia’s Sam Nujoma, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Mozambique’s Samora Machel, South Africa’s Steve Biko and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe got their courage to challenge the world order because they saw that at that time the white colonial masters did not give a hoot about black people’s plight nor where they willing to let go of their colonial grip on the continent.
Perhaps the lack of a dialogue acumen in the former colonial masters was a good thing because it created their demise in one way or the other.
However modern day politics steered by revolutionary parties in the better part of the Southern African development Community (Sadc) region seem to have adopted that worrisome wait and see attitude towards important issues like land unavailability. It is not a secret that in countries like Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and even some parts of Zimbabwe the hunger for land is very real.
Waiting to see what will happen will or not dealing with the problem of shortage of land will it wish it away. Policy makers should not be the ones waiting for the rain on this issue but rather be steering the debate forward.
Ironically most of these countries are ruled by former liberation movements whose mandate to go to war was to free their people and give them access to the means of production including land are surprisingly waiting to see what will happen if the land is not given.
It is also no secret that these countries including Namibia have exorbitant rents that are pretty much beyond the reach of the middle class. An average apartment in town or any vicinity that the middle class who survive on salary can rent goes for anything between N$8000 and N$10 000.
Statics also show that the means of production are controlled by an affluent 10 percent of the population and these are the same moguls that control property and land prices and will not give a hoot about affordability or non-affordability thereof of land or rent.
These people are more concerned about profit than anything else.
Ironically the bulk of the civil service that constitute the middle class and the better part of the private sector does not earn anything close to this salary. Questions therefore are how are these people managing to cater for this rent and also their families. To explain the situation further it is very disheartening to say these rents are as good as paying for one’s mortgage for a house.
What is worrisome is that Government seems to have adopted a wait and see attitude to the growing agitations for land and there is no genuine push to find urgent remedies to this ticking time bomb. While no one would want to support a chaotic way of dealing with land shortages (be it urban or farming land) one would expect that Government be taking the lead role in initiating dialogue towards those that want land.
There is a genuine need for real engagement with the masses and also those that need land. Perhaps Government should be the one pushing for this kind of engagement with the view of addressing the issue of people needing land. A wait and see approach never worked for the colonisers and it will certainly not work for modern day government especially in relation to sensitive matters such as land distribution.