Good rains coupled with prospects of a bet ter economic outlook should propel us as Namibians to aim high this year. The New Year presents both challenges and great opportunities that we should never miss. Doing so would be at our own peril. Without doubt, this is going to be a tough year. The first shocker of the year is the recent increase in fuel prices. It is obvious that the fuel hikes will have a detrimental effect on all economic spheres in the country. Both individual consumers and businesses would adversely be affected by the impact of this week’s increase, coming as it does after similar fuel hikes during the last quarter of last year. There are a myriad of other problems facing the country. High unemployment and poverty stand out as the biggest challenges facing our nation in 2006 as in previous years. The HIV/Aids pandemic is another problem area. So are other health issues, as well as education. The list is long and is ever growing longer. President Hifikepunye Pohamba this week minced no words about the enormous challenges collectively facing the nation and what needs to be done to address them. He was speaking at the opening of the year’s first Cabinet session. The President directed his Cabinet to do everything necessary to ensure there is a sound management of the country’s scarce resources and to ensure there is effective service delivery. He urged them to fast-track government programmes in order to provide food and other relief to those in need of these basic of needs. The sum total of the President’s message is that he wants the country to become self- sufficient, particularly in the area of food production. The call by the President is commendable and logical, as Namibians should take control of their future destiny by providing for themselves. “A nation that is dependent on handouts, or may I say, a begging nation can hardly claim to be independent,” he said at the Cabinet meeting. This is a national call of duty in the New Year. Cabinet alone cannot provide the magic wand for the ills presently facing the country. In retrospect, each time a new year comes, Namibians are urged to work hard. They also tend to make resolutions and build castles in the air each time a new year arrives. But, by year-end, they are in most cases where they started off – impoverished and dejected. This has to change. We need to adopt good work ethics and prudence. We have to ride the storm and seek to survive in the shadow of adversity. We are a Brave people whose resilience and determination should help us to weather the storm. Our people have to draw parallels from the years past and use their survival instincts to cushion the anticipated hardships of 2006. We cannot afford to despair even under the most trying times.
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