“A parasitic class has emerged that is not using wealth to increase investment in local production to create more wealth employment and the development in depth of the economy but a version of the gatekeeper state – where the governing party and its related elite are the gatekeepers for the income from primary mineral or agricultural exports and for incoming aid and loans, using control of the gate to take unearned rents that are used to finance a rich lifestyle but not sustainable economic growth.”

Africa Sustainable Conservation News

Keith Somerville – Review of Henning Melber, Understanding Namibia: The Trials of Independence, London: Hurst and Company, 2014


The quote in the headline for this review sums up the experience not just of Namibia after 25 years of rule by the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO). It also relates strongly to the experience of many in southern Africa of decades of government by former liberation movements which promised both liberation from white minority rule and a fair redistribution of wealth. It is written by a former SWAPO activist who campaigned for “Solidarity, Freedom and Justice” for “One Namibia, One Nation” who has become disillusioned with the rapacity, lack of accountability and building of a system, based on personal accumulation of wealth, party monopoly of power and a system of elite-based patronage and rent-seeking.

Henning Melber joined SWAPO in 1974 and later became head of the Namibian Economic…

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