President Hage Geingob has launched the country’s first-ever National Dialogue on Wealth Distribution and Poverty Eradication, with the hope of finding solutions towards improving the living standards of poor Namibians.
“I would like to state unequivocally that as President I have heard the cry of the poor. I have dedicated my Presidency to the complete eradication of poverty in this beautiful country of ours,” said Geingob, who started his speech by quoting a verse from the Bible that says: ‘Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor, will himself call out and not be answered.’
He said the essence of the all-out-war on poverty is that poverty eradication is only achievable if collective efforts are made by all Namibians towards that goal.
“This why on the eve of 31 July, I met leaders of the Affirmative Repositioning group. I called on them to hold hands with government in the spirit of harambee [Swahili term for pulling or working together] and be part of the war on poverty,” the President said.
The dialogue is an initiative of the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
Among those who attended the launch were Vice-President Nicky Iyambo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the First Lady Monica Geingos, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Anita Gbeho, various government ministers, diplomats and members of the private sector.
He said the visualization and manifestation of poverty and its accompanying ills are so heartbreaking that it is easy to forget that, since attaining independence, the country has made significant achievements in improving the livelihoods of thousands of Namibians, with the lifting of 400 000 Namibians out of poverty.
According to Geingob, and the latest figures released by the National Statistics Agency (NSA), 69 percent of all Namibians lived below the poverty line in 1993. Eighty-two percent of the country’s population in rural areas was estimated to be poor compared to 39 percent in urban areas.
He said by 2010, however, the overall poverty rate in the country reduced to 29 percent from 69 percent.
“As articulated in my State of the Nation address of 21 April 2015, these statistics are testament to the immense work done by the government in alleviating poverty in the country,” he said.
Geingob added: “The cold facts are that we cannot allow ourselves to be consoled by a 40 percent poverty reduction.
“Our target is the immediate alleviation and eventual eradication of poverty through sustainable and targeted efforts.” “The establishment of the the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare is meant to ensure proper and effective coordination, implementation and evaluation of all the programmes aimed at poverty eradication,” he said.
Geingob used the opportunity to appeal to young people to remember their financial and emotional duty of caring for their parents and vulnerable people within the community.
He also reminded all employed people of the need to save money adequately during their working life, to ensure a dignified retirement for themselves.