President Hage Geingob says it is time for world leaders to walk the talk, as good decisions without implementation inhibit development. Geingob made the remarks when he addressed the World Leaders Summit during the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.
The Namibian Head of State noted that the theme of the summit, ‘From Decision to Action’, is in line with Namibia’s Vision 2030 that aims to pave the way for industrialisation. “At a continental level the African Union has also agreed on Agenda 2063, which is a multi-faceted development path with targets to be achieved by the year 2063. The theme is, therefore, timely and relevant,” Geingob noted.
“Let us not fall in what is referred to as the NATO syndrome, that is to say No Action Talk Only. In Namibia, we have declared 2016 the year of implementation, because like the rest of the world, we’re good in planning and formulating excellent visionary policies,
but lack when it comes to implementing them. I, therefore, challenge all us present here today, to ensure that decisions taken at this conference will be followed through by concrete actions.”
He said that in international organisations there is a trust deficit, because there is no transparency in some cases. According to him, equally, trust levels between politicians and citizens have been on the decline globally. Geingob advised world leaders to govern in partnership at international level based on equality in their relations.
“To improve trust levels, we have developed the following mathematical formula of A + T = Tr. That is to say that accountability plus transparency results into improved trust levels… The more political leaders are accountable and are transparent, the more people will develop trust in them. If people believe what leaders are promising and where trust levels are high, it becomes easier to rally behind a common purpose, thereby improving the pace of implementation.”
He said this is why in Namibia, ministers are entering into performance contracts for the sake of accountability and transparency. “In order to promote accountability and transparency, my wife and I have publicly declared our income and assets, although there is no legal obligation to do so. Just last week our minister of finance, present here, also publicly declared his income and assets.”
He added: “We have declared war against poverty and instituted multi-layered decision-making, and by being transparent hope we will also minimise corruption.” He warned though that there should be vigilance against attempts by some countries to downgrade the mandate of UNCTAD, or outsource its responsibilities to other multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank and IMF that are infamous for their destructive structural adjustment programmes in African countries.
“UNCTAD should remain the UN focal point for integrated trade, and sustainable development,” he maintained. Geingob also noted that human rights and social development cannot be divorced from economic development. “However, careful consideration should be given before they are incorporated into the mandate of UNCTAD, as advocated by some, as this may lead to mandate creep.” He said the core UNCTAD mandate should remain trade and development, with a specific focus on issues that prevent developing nations from fully benefiting from international trade due to restrictive and unfair trade practices, combined with limited room for industrialisation.
“Inequality is increasing worldwide and the categorisation of countries as middle-income countries creates a wrong impression that these countries can stand on their own and do not need international support.”
It is his belief that this categorisation of countries that simply divides GDP by the total population does not take into account wealth distribution and inequality that have become key drivers of social discontent globally.
It is impossible to capture the developmental status of a nation in one single denominator, such as GDP per capita, he said. “Of great concern is that average income does not reflect distributional issues. A country may through rapid GDP growth graduate from low-income into middle-income status, but all citizens may not necessarily share such growth.”
“Income generation or growth that is not shared is not sustainable growth. Middle-income countries should be given assistance by UNCTAD, commensurate with their needs. Therefore, Namibia cannot support efforts to exclude middle-income countries from UNCTAD’s assistance,” he stated.
Geingob and his high-level delegation arrived back in Windhoek from Nairobi late yesterday afternoon.