Pohamba Urges Nation to Stand Together By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Namibians can be proud that after 16 years of Independence the country is still viewed as one of the shining examples of stability, tolerance and national harmony in the region and beyond. Addressing a sea of close to 16 000 Namibians at the Independence Stadium yesterday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba urged all citizens in the country to work hard in maintaining their hard-won freedom, peace and stability. It is with this momentum that he encouraged all Namibians to stand together under the banner of “One Namibia, One Nation”. “We must guard against all tendencies of discrimination, tribalism, regionalism, because they can cause strife and conflict … in fact such tendencies can prove to be more dangerous and destructive than colonialism and apartheid,” said President Pohamba during his first independence address since he became President on March 21 last year. The Head of State continued to say that if Namibians fail to stick to this spirit of One Namibia, One Nation then that would be tantamount to the betrayal of sacrifices made by the country’s heroes and heroines who fought for the liberation and independence that is being enjoyed by most Namibians today. As Namibians marked the 16th Independence anniversary countrywide, tribute was paid to the liberation martyrs through a one-minute silence called upon by the Head of State. “We remember our heroes and heroines such as Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, Chief Samuel Maharero, Jakob Marenga, Nehale lyaMpingana, Mandume yaNdemufayo, Iipumbu ya Tshirongo and many others,” he said while paying similar tribute to the cadres of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia, PLAN. With such a memorable and strong foundation, sentiments have been that as a country, Namibia is poised to face and overcome the growing challenges of the future. In a rather concise and short speech, the Head of State talked about the ongoing plans to implement policies and programmes that would combat the spread of HIV/Aids, fighting poverty in rural and peri-urban areas, speeding up economic growth and addressing the pressing challenges facing the youth. “We are moving with determination and clear focus to improve public service delivery, to eliminate waste and duplication of efforts, while adding greater momentum to our thrust of promoting transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.” On the issue of rooting out corruption, which the Head of State considers as an “enemy” that hampers prosperity and stifles the country’s efforts towards improving the living standards of all Namibians in society, he said: “Corruption is an enemy of the Namibian people. It is an enemy of the poor, it is an enemy of the sick, it is an enemy of the unemployed, it is an enemy of those who seek better education and above all it is a threat against our democracy, peace, security and stability.” He also urged Namibians to throw their full support behind the newly established Anti-Corruption Commission. Echoing these sentiments in her Vote of Thanks speech, Khomas Regional Governor Sofia Shaningwa said Namibians should “do away with corrupt practices of nepotism, favouritism and tribalism. We need to be cautious of some people who enrich themselves at the expense of others.” Another area of grave concern for the government is the economic empowerment of women. Despite the fact that laws have been enacted to address discrimination against women before independence, the Head of State mentioned that more concerted efforts are needed to empower women in existing programmes like land reform, small and medium enterprises and business skills training. A joyous ovation and ululation erupted from the crowd after the President ended this section on the empowerment of women. Equally, however, much has been done in the fight against the growing HIV/Aids pandemic that is placing an enormous strain on the country’s health sector. This was achieved through the introduction of programmes to provide anti-retroviral treatment to those infected as well as preventing the transmission of the virus from mother to child available at all major health facilities in the country. Yet as word of caution, the President said that the growing trend of HIV infection could be reversed through responsible behaviour and respect for one another. “Our people should make personal pledges to behave responsibly for the love of their fellow citizens and for the sake of our country,” added the President. The Green Scheme and aquaculture projects were further cited as initiatives by government to meet the country’s quest for food security through local production. However, the Head of State noted that this goal could only be enhanced through Public-Private Partnerships. Last year, on March 21, the Founding Father of the Nation Dr Sam Nujoma handed over the reins of power to President Pohamba after 15 years of peaceful and stable rule. It is against this background that Namibians are encouraged to work together in building on the current successes and at the same time being able to address the difficult challenges that lie ahead. “We need to embrace national reconciliation, tolerance, security and mutual understanding. We need unity and inclusiveness,” concluded President Pohamba, adding the resolve that Namibians should “never give up”. The event was attended by Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ministers and other government officials, apart from the large crowd made up of members of the public.
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