President Hage Geingob says if the status quo of socio-economic inequality, which can be traced to the discriminatory apartheid policies of the past, is not addressed the existing peace and stability could be jeopardised.
Namibia, though classified as a middle-income country, has the dubious distinction of being the country with the worst economic inequality in the world, with the gap between the rich and the poor growing wider each year.
However, the government has crafted and implemented several policy interventions to narrow this shocking gap.
Closing the ruling Swapo Party policy conference in Windhoek yesterday Geingob, who is also the president of Swapo, said: “In terms of inequality, we must all understand that if we don’t address the imbalances that exist, we are placing our peace and stability in jeopardy. Let us not fool ourselves.”
Quoting former World Bank chief economist and renowned academic Joseph Stiglitz, who said ‘the only true and sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity’, Geingob added: “Swapo [has] a responsibility to pursue shared prosperity through all possible means available.”
He continued: “If we don’t do this then whatever prosperity exists will not be sustainable.”
After a four-day conference of extensive and high-level deliberations the ruling party Swapo has emerged with a different narrative that will shape its future engagement and smooth sailing to its elective congress next year.
Geingob stressed that given the quality studies carried out and presented by experts, he expects that many issues would be ironed out before the 2017 congress.
He said he is convinced that based on the presentations made at the conference tremendous progress would be achieved to ensure that younger cadres would be groomed to assume future leadership roles, adding that the party is a leader in the promotion of women as well.
According to Geingob, the success of the policy conference is proof of this notion and that is why “our political opponents are hurting and attempting to deflate our achievements”.
“Many had hoped that they could instigate situations that would lead to divisions and disunity within Swapo,” he said.
“As Swapo, we have proved the doubters wrong by going about this conference in a spirit of camaraderie and unity.”
It is Geingob’s analysis that the just-ended conference has allowed the party to take several steps forward in the same direction as one.
“We can be assured that through our Swapo spirit of unity against a common enemy, success will be inevitable.”
Geingob said the conference should act as a basis for the establishment of Swapo’s narrative for conducting the second phase of the struggle and bringing economic prosperity to all Namibians.
Regarding his remarks on the Namibian constitution, Geingob explained: “When I referred to the constitution as just a paper, I was not trying to devalue its relevance. All that I was saying is that the constitution is written in English and therefore many Namibians have not been able internalize it.”
But he added that there plans to rectify this by translating the constitution into all Namibian languages.