Namibia bade a weary adieu to a bumpy 2016 and now a new year is upon us. Whether 2016 was a year to remember or to forget entirely depends entirely on whom you are conversing with.
There’s no universal national answer to this question.
Economic headwinds, the result of global market slowdowns, have been felt with massive impact in the country, to the extent that severe budget cuts were announced towards the end of last year.
Add to this the devastating drought and we are seeing the shape of a real catastrophe in the making.
Politically the country was relatively calm in 2016, bar the court challenge that the ruling party Swapo lost against four men it had expelled from its ranks the previous year.
However, a real test of Swapo’s tenacity is in the offing this year when its often distractive elective congress is held. Cool heads would be needed to sail Namibia through this perennially turbulent period, because as the ruling politicians often say, when Swapo sneezes, the entire Namibia catches the flu.
We suggested earlier this week, out of our unconditional love for this country, that the Swapo congress be held as early in 2017 as possible, so that leaders can go back to their national duties in government and other offices.
Irrecoverable time has often been spent on quarrels, machinations and plotting, to the extent that the real mission – which is to work hard and make Namibia a better place for all its citizens – gets lost in these fights.
Given the current economic challenges, there is clearly no other way to keep us afloat than committing to hard work.
We are glad that President Hage Geingob is already talking about 2017 as a year of rededication. This is exactly what we need to hear in challenging times like this.
Now it’s time to put the rededication mantra into practice.
Naturally, there is always hype and hope around the concept of new year. However, it is the people, and not the year, which would have to do things differently if we are to move from one point to another as a nation. In other words, if we fall back on old habits and expect things to change just because the year is new, we would be the butt of every joke.
There seem to be good prospects of rain this year and if this indeed proves the case, we have good cause to work hard and produce sufficient food.
We need to celebrate too, because the drought would be dealt a terminal blow by a period of steady rains and government would save much-needed funds to channel toward other priority areas, such as infrastructure development.
On his trip to London and Paris in December, President Geingob told investors to look beyond just the small population of Namibia as an attraction.
He explained how Namibia could become the preferred entry point to the SADC region, which boasts nearly 300 million people.
For this to be achieved, we need to rededicate ourselves to investing in the economy, especially infrastructure. Ports, roads, airports and railways would have to be strategically upgraded as part of our agenda if we are indeed to become the natural choice of entry to the wider SADC region.
The private sector too must come to the party in 2017. The fact that citizens of this country, who carry most of the private sector on their frail shoulders, can no longer find leisure and pleasure in watching local football due to the lack of sponsors is a real shame.
The private sector’s role goes beyond just corporate social responsibility. Companies must also relieve government of the burden of job provision by redoubling their efforts and creating more wealth and, therefore, more jobs for the country as a whole.