President defends his anti-poverty drive

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Windhoek

President Hage Geingob this week tore into armchair critics who claim that his government has failed in its eight months in office, saying the claims are “a lie”.
President Geingob emphasised that his anti-poverty drive is genuine and called on the entire nation to join the fight against destitution.

Speaking in Wanaheda, Katutura, on Monday during the handover of a house to the Hansen family – which lived in a cemetery after they was evicted from their house in 2007 – Geingob expressed his displeasure at lies being peddled against his government and the cursory dismissal of its efforts.

Critics were at it again this week after the handing over of the house to the Hansen family, with some saying they need a broader solution to the country’s housing crisis, rather than donations to individual families.
New Era understands that Geingob started his efforts to help the Hansens when he was still prime minister, shortly after he became aware of the plight of the family.

A month ago the president also announced that he would donate 20 percent of his salary towards the education of poor Namibians.
Days later, government announced it would introduce a solidarity tax – meant to generate revenues to help fight poverty.

Government came in for heavy criticism over the envisaged new tax, with particularly the middle class saying it is already subjected to an raft of mandatory taxes.
Such taxes, critics say, should be used to fight poverty, instead of introducing new ones. Others argued that overtaxing could itself create poverty among those subjected to it.

President Geingob differs. “We are becoming too greedy. We don’t want to share,” he said on Monday.
On the supposed failure of his government, Geingob said: “We are also becoming liars. Telling lies about one another, about the government. We have only been there for eight months and we have failed apparently. That’s a lie. Why are we doing that?” he wanted to know.

“All of a sudden there are these workers demonstrating. We have the youth demonstrating. We have the NBC (Namibia Broadcasting Corporation) showing us worse situations every night. New Era everyday has pictures of those who are suffering. Is it to say government failed? If they are helping us to identify the areas where poor people are, we welcome that,” Geingob said.

President Geingob has put the fight against poverty at the centre of his government’s focus, and several initiatives, including the mooted food banks, are being rolled out to arrest the situation.

“We have declared war against poverty – and we mean it. Whether you wish us to fail or not, we mean it.
“We have decided to declare war against poverty and we must fight that war together, holding hands,” he said.
In March Geingob raised pensioners’ monthly grant from N$600 to N$1000 – a move the he said was also aimed at containing poverty rates in the country.

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