President Hage Geingob yesterday said there are attempts to discredit his gains as head of state so far, but added that besides the prayers from the church community for him to succeed the greater part of the populace loves him and the job he has done so far.
Taking stock of his nine months in office, the president listed uniting Namibians as one of his achievements. To exploit this unity for prosperity, he is to introduce the ‘Harambee’ plan under which targeted economic interventions are to be driven between 2016 and 2021. Hitting back at critics who claim his government has so far been all talk and no action, Geingob said there were notable successes on cultivating the culture of transparency, accountability,
economic transformation and the declaration of an all-out war on poverty.
He also spoke passionately about engaging the grass-roots people at town hall meetings in all 14 regions at which he got to understand their problems first-hand.
The streamlining of cabinet decisions and the mass land servicing exercise on a pilot basis in Walvis Bay, Oshakati and Windhoek were further achievements of the new government, the president enumerated.
Going forward, Geingob is hungry to drive aggressive economic transformation and Harambee – an acceleration plan aimed at significantly reducing poverty levels, inequalities and uplifting the living standards of all Namibians.
“The plan will not replace NDP4. It complements NDP4 and other developmental plans,” he said.
The head of state conceded that there is general discontent among some quarters – with some even wishing him to fail – but was confident his plans would convince his critics that he means business.
He questioned the objectivity of his critics, who he said included sections of the media.
“By you journalists I have been found to have failed. That shows you are not objective. How do I fail in eight months? People have been looking for fault lines hoping that I fail,” he said.
Geingob said his only fear is not delivering on the promise of delivering prosperity once his term ends.
“As a leader, I am committed to transparency and accountability. One can only be held accountable for the promises made,” said Geingob.
Geingob is not oblivious to threats such as a looming electricity supply deficit and water crisis, saying government’s approach is to “embrace a mix of energy solutions”.
He confirmed that the much-anticipated Kudu gas project, for which billions of dollars would be needed, has been placed on ice and replaced with cheaper energy proposals.
He said even the Bible’s insinuations that poverty can never be eradicated has not convinced him that the scourge can indeed be wiped off the face of the earth. Many sceptics have countered that poverty can never be eradicated, because even the Holy Bible suggests “the poor will always be with us. Surprisingly when the world came together in New York in September this year, the most important resolution taken was to eradicate poverty by 2030,” he said. Although he agrees that poverty cannot be eradicated overnight, he said: “As a first step we will focus on a significant reduction of poverty, before ultimately eradicating it by 2025 in Namibia.”
It is against this background that since his inauguration in March he increased the old-age pension, established the Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Ministry, the national dialogue on wealth redistribution and poverty eradication, and finalised the blueprint on poverty eradication.
On perceived massive spending and supposed misplaced spending priorities, the president said national projects such as the planned N$7 billion airport have been long in the pipeline and were not introduced during his time in office.
“Those are continuation programmes, they are not starting today. There is a master plan and we are trying to roll them out. The budget we have is a continuation budget and the projects we are implementing were already there,” he said.
Journalists tried to get some clarity on the supposed cash-flow problems government is facing and how planned activities would be funded under such circumstances.
IJG Securities yesterday issued a statement in which it warns that following major debt issuance in Namibia and the depreciation of the South African rand on unhedged government debt, Namibia’s debt to GDP ratio looks set to reach and possibly surpass 35% by the end of 2015.
The stockbroking company said: “2015 will be a year for the books as far as Namibia’s debt is concerned. In the space of just 12 months, it is estimated that public debt (that taken out by the government) has increased by over 65 percent, and over N$20 billion, to a total of N$55 billion.”