Inevitably, my thoughts turned to South Africa – and the realisation that not a single market here can match its Namibian counterparts. I know Joburg market is planning its ‘Market of the Future’, but after five years, the emphasis is still on planning and not much more. It rankles when tiny Namibia can find the will and resources to make huge investments in its markets and we cannot – and we fancy ourselves as the leaders on the continent!
Getting the job done
During my visit to the country, I gathered that the markets there are not plagued by politics to the same extent as ours. Management seems to get on with the job, not play political games. The markets are united in their efforts to make Namibia as close to self-sufficient in fruit and veg as possible. They will continue to remain largely dependent on South Africa for many years to come, but at least they are doing something about it.
Our markets have faced serious challenges for more years than anybody can remember, yet we’re not even close to solving them. I concede that there are dedicated people high up in our government and in the structures of the fresh produce sector who are toiling away to make our markets better, but our main problem is the interference of politics in our sector. It’s something I’ve written about ad nauseum.
Our friends in Namibia, now celebrating 25 years of independence, realised long ago that when it comes to the national good, partisan politics must be put aside. The result is that this small country, which really does not have the resources, takes the bit between its teeth and gets on with the job.
Support, don’t interfere
Politicians do have a role to play, but it should be supportive, not interfering. Like Namibia’s government officials, they should provide the infrastructure, then let the appropriate role players get on with the job. But our politicians stick their noses in everywhere. Our neighbours found the formula for their country 25 years ago. If Namibia can do it, why can’t we?