President Hage Geingob has called on managing directors and chief executive officers (CEOs) of state-owned enterprises to do away with the practice of acknowledging ministers in absentia at the official opening of events.
Geingob made the call during the inauguration of the revamped Agribank Head Office building on Wednesday, saying the tendency of flattering ministers in their absence can lead to corruption.
He was reacting to Agribank CEO Ambassador Leonard Iipumbu, who in his welcoming remarks had acknowledged the Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein and Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste, in absentia.
“I’m a little bit surprised how the people, the managing directors and so on, go out of their way to please line ministers by acknowledging them, even if they are not here,” he said. Geingob said this type of flattery makes it very difficult for the ministers to correct them when they are doing wrong. “The person is not here, why so and so in absentia? This means that there is something wrong,” he stressed.
He said there is nothing wrong with praising ministers, since it is an African culture, but these small things people do without realising the implications can lead to corruption. Furthermore, Geingob urged Agribank to extend and intensify its coverage to the most vulnerable in society and to ensure they reach the most remote parts of the country.
He said NDP 4 (Fourth National Development Plan) identifies agriculture as one of the key priority sectors to achieve high and sustained economic growth, improve income equality and create employment. Therefore, Agribank has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that Namibians, especially those who have historically been on the fringes of the economy, are given the financial means to participate in this key sector and propel the national economy towards the targets set out in Vision 2030, he said.
Geingob further said that over the past few months, government has set out several concrete and well defined objectives aimed at tackling poverty, as well as enhancing economic growth.
“The renovation of this building should reinvigorate the staff of Agribank and awaken in them a renewed sense of purpose, so that they are able to join government in pulling in one direction so that the agriculture sector becomes an economic catalyst that will propel Namibia into an era of prosperity.”
In keeping with the theme: ‘No Namibian should feel left out’, the president said he is pleased to note that Agribank is committed to ensuring that all Namibians are able to access affordable funding in order to effectively participate in the agriculture sector. He said he is aware that the bank is busy piloting a number of products that require minimum collateral in order to ensure wider participation in the sector.
“Agribank should continue to play a significant role in the equitable distribution of land through land purchases by previously disadvantaged Namibians under the national resettlement programme,” stated Geingob. He said to date 1 007 previously disadvantaged Namibians acquired 5.9 million hectares of land and thus created or maintained 6 000 jobs.
“I am informed that a notable achievement in this regard is that Agribank has contributed to about 40 percent of the national target of 15 million hectares of farmland ownership [in the hands] of previously disadvantaged persons,” he said.