Nations are built on the foundation of rule of law

By Victor Angula /

Progressive nations are built on a strong foundation. And that foundation is rule of law, and not rule by law.

Namibia, as much as other African nations which have been independent for longer yet have stagnated economically, socially and politically, will not get anywhere if this disregard for the rule of law continues.

Rule of law means that there are rules which have been cast in stone, so much so that they cannot be broken. Whoever breaks them is not breaking them but actually breaking himself on them.

These rules are universally accepted, or at least nationally accepted because they have been legislated by an elected people’s assembly, or they have been passed on from generation to generation so that they have become the way of life.

These rules serve the purpose of justice, fairness, order, humanity, and civility.

So they are referred to as ‘the law’.

Nobody can break them. Nobody can break them and get away with it. It doesn’t matter who. Even the president cannot break them and get away with it. Everybody knows it. Educated or uneducated, everybody knows that you can’t break the law and get away with it.

It is called ‘rule of law’. The law rules.

But Namibia is going the same way of those nations which collapsed because ‘rule of law’ became ‘rule by law’. The rules of society have been hijacked and abused by the ruling class, so that those in power are ruling by these rules, instead of surrendering themselves to be ruled by the rules of justice, order, humanity, and civility.

In South Africa for instance, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm saga could have seen him packing long ago if the South African nation was functioning on the basis of rule of law.

Prima facie evidence (the allegations which he did not deny) showed that the President had some legal questions to answer. But instead, he chose to use the ‘rule by law’ tactic by suspending the Public Protector who was using her lawful right to ask questions.

Back home in Namibia, I can just give one recent example of ‘rule by law’. The Ministry of Health and Social Services decided that it no longer needs the Covid-19 Volunteers.

So it sent out a notice dated 13 September 2022, stating that “The appointment of all COVID-19 volunteers will be terminated on 31 October 2022. Therefore, the letter dated 19 May 2022 on the extension of contract until 31 December 2022 is herewith withdrawn.”

In a society where there is rule of law, contracts have to be honored until the last day. No contract can be terminated willy-nilly by any party whatever the circumstances.

But since Namibia is not governed by rule of law, the Ministry of Health will get away with this.

It is called ‘rule by law’. Those who are in powerful state positions can do whatever they want to do for their benefit with no regard to justice, fairness, order, humanity, and civility.

And what you will get out of this is disorderly economic competition, tribalism, criminality, and every other uncivil conduct as have been witnessed across the nations of Africa during our generation.