While trends in the rest of the world show an improvement in poverty levels compared to 20 years ago, Africa is getting poorer.
This is according to the African Social Development Index, ASDI, whose findings reveal that poverty, fueled by inequality, remains the single most important driver of human exclusion in Africa. Women, youth and rural communities endure the worst forms of exclusion.
Needless to say, Namibia certainly finds herself in the same boat. While it is unclear whether the situation in Namibia can be said to have deteriorated over the past 20 to 25 years, which is the period Namibia has been in charge of her own affairs and destiny for as an independent and sovereign country, there’s no denying that the country is facing a glaring problem of poverty.
This apparent widening rift between rich and poor seems to defy all efforts at ameliorating poverty, sometimes making such efforts seem ineffective and meaningless – if not altogether futile.
Given the resoluteness, resolve and determination of the reigning president to wage a total onslaught on poverty, there may be light at the end of the tunnel in terms of fighting, alleviating and eventually eradicating poverty.
Instructive and perhaps a pointer to the president’s resolve to eradicate poverty is the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), with its five main pillars: effective governance and service delivery; economic advancement; social progression; infrastructure development and international relations and cooperation.
Particularly particular interest is the drive to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship that it is ultimately intended to culminate in increased youth enterprise development, and hence – hopefully – in reduced youth unemployment.
Commenting on the African Social Development Index (ASDI) chief executive officer of Southern Africa Trust Bhekinkosi Moyo called recently for the inclusion of all sectors of society, particularly people most affected by underdevelopment. “For development to be inclusive and sustainable, it has first to be informed by evidence and shaped by the very people who are affected,” he opines.
Moyo adds that sound policies are critical in solving the challenges revealed in the ASDI report.
“This report shows that most countries are battling with challenges of youth unemployment, high levels of poverty, gender inequality, malnutrition, education and health mainly. How do our countries respond to these in a sustained manner? Part of the solution lies in sound and appropriate policies,” he says.
What Moyo is saying provides food for thought for Namibia, as well as for the southern African sub-region and the continent at large. One cannot accentuate more strongly the essence and urgency of the crafting appropriate and relevant policies in this regard.
In Namibia, especially, we’ve had a myriad of policies and frameworks all directed at one and the same social injustice and imbalance, but with little or no obvious positive outcome. One can recall various strategies and frameworks that have seen the light to date in one regard, that of eliminating income inequalities and inequities.
These economic tools, strategies and frameworks include Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment Growth (TIPEG), New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF).
According to Nahas Angula, then prime minister in 2012, NEEF was intended “to promote an equitable, inclusive and shared economic development in the country. Today we have NEEEF, and HHP. One cannot but wonder what is we have been trying to target and what president after president had set out to achieve, and towards what end?
Towards poverty alleviation and eradication and with poverty having been alleviated and ultimately eradicated, would this necessarily lead to equality and equity? To what extent can we say that these different frameworks have been effectively addressing whatever they had been meant to address, which has been dubious, and let alone to what extent they might
have had unintended consequences, and what have been these consequences?
Have all these frameworks ever been implemented? In what policy environments – if perhaps they have been? And have there ever been the right policy environments in which such frameworks could expeditiously germinate?
In the final analysis, either such frameworks have been no more than fanciful, high-sounding rhetoric, or they have been created and left to their own devices and thus to their natural death, without the requisite follow-up in terms of implementation and monitoring.
In view of the given environments, which have never seemed conducive to their germination, they had been destined to premature death. This is something one cannot really wish upon HHP – not in view of the lessons of all its fancy-sounding forerunners.