Preserve Our Peace – Says Premier

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK Namibians should congratulate themselves for keeping the peace and for pushing the country in the right direction, commented Prime Minister Nahas Angula, as the nation gets ready to celebrate independence day tomorrow. “I must emphasise that we should not take our peace for granted. It is a very fragile commodity which is easy to destroy and difficult to rebuild,” the premier told New Era in an interview at his office. Angula noted Africa has “failed states” and Namibia is not immune to that. “We have to manage our political systems to create a culture of tolerance for different viewpoints. We must create an inclusive society based on social justice for future generations,” he said. He warned against “forces” that try to roll back the achievements of the freedom struggle. “These forces will use any means to divide us and the temptations are big because everyone is fighting over resources. This can create resentment, which will be met with reaction that can bring about divisions. There are political warlords based on ethnic and tribal allegiances. This needs political management especially in a diverse country such as ours.” Without making any specific reference to any country or incident, the premier urged current governments in the region to show that they are different from former regimes toppled by liberation movements. “If you are not different from those that you have replaced, then others can have the moral high ground to call for a regime change. We must have a sense of idealism and manage our individual aspirations, which can be either for wealth or political power, for the general public good, which should reign superior to individual interests to prove that we are different.” Notwithstanding the fault lines and divisions on the basis of culture, generational divides, gender and race, Angula said the country has made major strides in the 17 years of independence, most importantly maintaining peace and stability. He commended the policy of national reconciliation that aspires to bring a formerly polarized society together. “We should focus on building a society that is based on social justice so that each of us should feel part of Namibia,” he declared. “There are a number of communities that feel alienated – the unemployed, the poor not sharing in the resources of the country, and those who feel that they have no political power and feel that they cannot influence government. These differences should be managed politically to build an inclusive society.” The overarching challenge, said Angula, is pervasive poverty especially experienced in rural areas and townships. “We should look at how to create a situation where people have productive assets. That should be addressed as part of the National Development Plan III and Vision 2030.” A recent study shows a slight decrease in income disparity, but the premier noted that “drastic” actions are required to redress the poverty and unemployment situation in the country. He suggested that increased public works might alleviate this situation as a short-term solution. Moreover, the premier suggested, the impact of HIV/AIDS should be monitored, and more should be done than what has so far been achieved. “The good news is that the economy is doing reasonably well, especially the mining sector,” he noted. The agricultural sector is currently buckling under very dry conditions, but Angula is of the opinion that positive signs in the fisheries sector might compensate for losses incurred in the agricultural sector. He again stressed the need, therefore, for the diversification of the economy.