Sparks expected to fly at SONA

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Big task ahead… President Hage Geingob is expected to touch on a variety of key issues in his State of the Nation Address today.

Windhoek

Opposition parties in the National Assembly are strongly advised to be stern and to ask President Hage Geingob critical questions during the question-and-answer session of the his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) today.

It is the feeling of some local commentators that the opposition should hold the president accountable on the promises he made, while others are of the opinion they should press him for more clarity on how he intends to push back the frontiers of poverty.

The official opposition did not mince words yesterday when they promised to heed the call and keep President Geingob – who has only been in office for a year now – on his toes on pertinent issues affecting Namibians, especially housing, land and unemployment.

Geingob has in recent weeks promised that he will reveal the much anticipated Harambee Prosperity Plan (HHP) during the SONA today.

Constitutional expert Nico Horn is hopeful Geingob will offer guidelines on his plan on poverty eradication and how the food banks form part of the bigger programme.

“We want to know how the HHP will transform higher education to be more technical and vocational vis-à-vis mere academic training,” said Horn.

“We are hoping he will give more clarity on our stand on international peacekeeping missions in Africa, especially now with the Mali request,” said the respected academic.

Horn was, however, of the opinion Geingob will not touch on the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Bill, as he is still consulting on the matter. But when he does, the Head of State must give a breakdown of how this black empowerment legislation will work, he suggested.

He then said the opposition could press Geingob on that point, especially how previously disadvantaged Namibians will apply to be recognised or qualify to be beneficiaries under this Bill.

“They must press for answers on poverty eradication, the new parliament, and clarity on the airport issue. They must ask crucial issues. They must keep him busy with pertinent and critical questions,” Horn stated.

Political analyst Phanuel Kaapama said last year’s SONA was for an opportunity for Geingob to strengthen the broader parameters of State institutions.

“This time around he will shed more light and greater details on the HPP, solidarity tax, food banks and other key proposals of the new administration,” Kaapama explained.

“I’m looking forward to this SONA, because it is a very important one, as the President does not have a lot of time before he faces the electorate again for re-election. So, with the SONA he has to be clear on his key objectives on his plans for the country on social, economic and political levels,” he argued.

Kaapama said if Geingob misses this opportunity, next year would not be ideal for him to reveal his grand plan, as it would be halfway through his term of office.

“The opposition parties have heard many issues, but they do not have the finer details. Their questions will centre mainly on these issues.

“They also may have their own questions relating to Namibians’ day-to-day lives, but they can start hitting from last year’s SONA on whether the promises made at the time have been fulfilled,” he said.

Leader of the official opposition, DTA president McHenry Venaani promised he would be very stern and critical on a number of issues pertaining to governance.

“We’re hoping the President will address the issue of the housing bubble, which is about to lead to a crisis and we need unequivocal clarity on the question of housing,” Venaani said.

“How does he want to resettle the landless Namibians in urban centres to avoid what is happening in Walvis Bay,” said Venaani, with reference to the pitched battles between landless people and law enforcement officers at the coast over the past weekend.

“What are the fundamental strong austerity measures to address the large bloated executive? We also want to know how jobs will be created and how many will created over the next two years.”

 

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