2016: Survival guide for Namibia

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The year 2016 is upon us, but its dawn has not been the most pleasing. From natural phenomena, such as lack of rain in most parts of the country to the merciless killing of women – and burning them – there has hardly been any reason to smile, just yet.We are not pessimists, but realistically speaking, challenges such as drought and food security are likely to be felt if the current prospects do not improve.

It’s a year that we may be required to fasten our belts as a country, control State spending and use every resource at our disposal prudently.Generally, 2016 seems set to be the toughest year in recent memory for the Namibian economy… and it’s not as if 2015 wasn’t hard enough for the country.

The freefall of the South African Rand, to which the Namibian Dollar is pegged, will quite likely have an adverse impact on the local economy.We saw, for example, the Chinese company that had scooped the controversial new airport tender arguing this week that the N$7 billion it had quoted was due to a drop in the value of the local currency in relation to the US Dollar, after they had initially planned to charge N$4 billion. Yet this is the year in which we hope to secure the crucial resources needed to secure additional electricity supply sources, amid a looming energy crisis.It is the year in which we continue to desperately seek funds to not only revive the mass housing programme, but also build homes on the land currently being cleared and serviced to help arrest the urban housing crisis.

As a country, we must remain full of hope and the desire to shake off anything that the world throws at us. We must dream on. We must remain resilient and show greater unity of purpose, so that we sail through the anticipated trials and tribulations. We must hope that commodity demand and prices pick up in the international market, that the Rand (and therefore the Namibian Dollar) stabilises, and hope that sufficient rain will eventually fall.Irrespective, all these challenges require us to be politically prepared.

All these situations require sober-minded leadership at all levels. In fact ‘leadership’ must be the buzzword in 2016. The first duty of any leader must be the welfare of their people and subordinates.Divisiveness, regionalism and tribalism are vices that proved in the past to be at the centre of some of our failures as a nation. If we are a nation that learns from its mistakes, we cannot afford to have another flirtation with any of these. The entire nation must pull in one direction and support government’s effort to better the lives of all citizens. 2016 should not go to waste. It cannot and should not be another year of ‘business as usual’.

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