Achieving prosperity is harder than the independence achieved in 1990. Based on Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans (NDP1 – NDP4), Namibia aimed to make progress towards a prosperous and industrialised country, developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability.
Namibia has achieved some developmental results on the basis of NDP1-NDP4. However, among many, widespread poverty and inequality, the high level of youth unemployment, as well as deprivation related to sanitation and housing are substantial barriers in achieving prosperity.
In the light of the above, Namibia required a new development planning approach to overcome the mentioned development challenges, along with a poverty eradication target by 2025, for which a blueprint plan is being formulated.
The purpose of this article is to assess and evaluate the new Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) on the basis of (a) consolidation of the development planning approach, (b) focus, (c) commitment towards the results, and (d) the role of the leadership of President Hage Geingob.
In development planning, focus is the anchor to generate the expected outcomes. The focus of HPP is achieving a significant reduction in poverty and inequality, as well as uplifting the living standards of people through inclusive growth and wealth creation.
Reduction of poverty, including hunger and inequality, is the foundation of prosperity, because the above-mentioned elements require a concerted effort to counter due to the gravity of the issues. This means that if the war on poverty cannot be won, there is no foundation for prosperity.
Inclusive growth, in which the poor and the unemployed contribute to the economic growth and benefit from development, is the foundation for wealth creation through income generation. In fact, for development to be sustainable, the flow of incomes, particularly to the poor and the unemployed, should be sustainable as a prerequisite.
The above-mentioned focus is to be achieved in HPP through five pillars, 14 goals and 41 interwoven targets. At the heart of all the above are the performance agreements signed by ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and senior management. In the absence of the performance agreements, attaining prosperity would be very difficult, as no one is accountable for the results.
The proposed Citizen Satisfaction Survey (CSS) will have a direct impact on the results of the performance agreements, because citizen are the judges of the performance agreements at the grassroots. Regarding the above, the important point – unknown to many people – is that the proposed CSS is a powerful tool of empowerment of citizens.
In light of all the above, HPP marks a turning point in development planning, which is committed to generating tangible results aimed at prosperity, along with the continuous participation of citizens.
HPP is complementary to the existing National Development Plans (NDPs). However, the process of the formulation of HPP is completely different, because it has adopted a bottom-up approach, instead of a top-down approach, which is a prerequisite for the success of development planning.
HPP derives from the Presidency. This is significant due for the following reasons. Firstly, the President engaged with Namibians from all walks of life in the 14 regions. As a result, Geingob realised that Namibians want an enabling environment to live with respect and dignity with sustainable incomes. Of course, handouts are temporary.
Second, the President engaged key stakeholders, including farmers’ unions, workers’ unions, the business community, youth and media. These stakeholders play a critical role in development planning and also generating the planned results.
Thirdly and most importantly, the approach of the President is highly participatory – similar to the poverty eradication mantra, ‘No one should feel left out’, in the dialogue to formulate HPP. Finally, the President emphasised the fact that people need to change their minds and attitudes and pull in the same direction.
All the above are new to development planning in Namibia. As a result, HPP is a genuine citizen document towards prosperity.
Leadership in the implementation of the HPP is derived from the President, who is transparent and credible. So far, the President has not compromised his integrity in dealing with the economic development concerns in the country. On the basis of his declaration of the war against poverty and among many of his responsibilities, the President has shown that he is highly committed to achieving broad prosperity.
This is possible, because no one is against poverty eradication. In the same manner, no one is against prosperity, because it is a prerequisite to live in harmony. On the basis of poverty eradication and HPP, the nation is committed pulling in the same direction under the leadership of the President.
Some jesters have argued that HPP contains only more promises, but it should be understood that these promises are from the President and the aim is to generate benefits for all the people. Promises are a foundation that can bridge the distance between the people and the President in a constructive manner.
* Dr Asoka Seneviratne is the director of programmes and institutional development at the International University of Management. He writes in his personal capacity.