• Dr Hage Geingob
Last Wednesday (8 February), I opened the 2017 Legal Year. On Tuesday this week I opened the first Cabinet session of 2017 i.e. the first session of the Executive, and later the same day, I opened the 5th Session of the 6th Parliament. This means that all three Organs of the State are up and running and the message I have for all of you is the same; this Year 2017, is the Year of Rededication. First and foremost, let us rededicate ourselves to the Almighty for creating this beautiful country we call Namibia, in which we live as inhabitants. Let us also rededicate ourselves to our core national values that have sustained our sovereignty, our integrity, our unity, our peace and our security, since independence.
As Cabinet, you have an integral role to play in ensuring that the synergies between the three Organs of State are maintained. The Cabinet Handbook is explicit in this regard, as its states, “For the state to function, there has to be some functional overlapping, with the governing functions substantially centred in the hands of the executive organ because the executive authority is involved in all those functions that are essential to governing. This broad responsibility of the executive organ translates into increasing responsibility of the Cabinet.”
This year, as we prepare to take up our duties and responsibilities, let us remain committed to the unity and togetherness that has carried our country for many years.
We should never get tired of peace, stability and unity; and must therefore carry out our duties with the interest of maintaining these noble ideals. Let us therefore take heed and be wary of the centrifugal force which is stoking the ever-simmering tribalism, and threatens to place our well managed governance architecture into disrepair. As I have said before, it is difficult to build but easy to destroy.
It is in this context and with this reality in mind that I engaged the Honourable Minister of Land Reform, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister, before announcing the postponement of the tabling of the Land Reform Bill in favour of a national dialogue, at which we shall fully interrogate the issue of land.
It is pertinent that we approach the land issue with utmost sincerity and clarity, since we have become aware that land is being used by a number of discontented individuals and groups from various quarters, as a fuse that they hope will ignite an explosion of chaos in our country.
I have said on many occasions that there is nothing wrong with belonging to tribes. Our tribes are part and parcel of our genealogy and African heritage, and we should be proud of who we are. But let us avoid the placing the ism at the end of the word tribal.
We should never lose sight of the fact that the Namibian House, which we are building on the cornerstones of democracy, unity, the rule of law, peace and stability, is a house characterized by inclusivity and pluralism. There is no separatism in the Namibian House, it is a house where all areas are open to all inhabitants, whether these inhabitants are related or unrelated. It is a house in which all Namibians are united by the need for economic emancipation and inclusive economic development. It is strange that certain people display a great determination to ridicule the concepts that we have put in place in order to accelerate our development. Let us disappoint them by succeeding.
Over the past several months, we have evolved a Namibian narrative; a narrative centred on the principles of unity. As a leader, I have dreamt of a Namibia that is united in fighting poverty and pursuing the goal of shared prosperity. The narrative is now set and we can clearly see that the people have embraced it, as all around the country, concepts such as Harambee, One Namibia, One Nation and the Namibian House are now features in day to day discourse.
As Cabinet, we should ensure that we extensively deliberate on the land issue, in order to come up with concrete proposals that could take us forward rather than backwards. Let those who hold gatherings on the premise of ancestral land come up with proposals, which are acceptable within the context of a united, free and reconciled Namibia.
We should not forget the example of Libya and Iraq, in which people sought to disrupt orderly systems in the hope of creating chaos, which they thought would be followed by better systems. Today, both these countries remain engulfed in perpetual ethnic conflict and war, which has resulted in the emergence of fractured societies and led to the suffering of children, women and other vulnerable people.
Moving on, we all acknowledge that the year 2016 was a very difficult year for the global economy. Namibia, like many other countries was not spared, and coupled with the crippling drought crisis; we are faced with disruptive financial headwinds. In the midst of these financial challenges, we are still expected to deliver on our promises as outlined in our Swapo Party election manifesto, our national development plans, and the Harambee Prosperity Plan. And we will deliver on these promises.
Despite the challenges we face, our governance architecture remains intact, and the world sees the results of our efforts, despite the picture of gloom that is portrayed by certain sectors of our community. We should never forget that we belong to a country with dignity and come next month, we will be celebrating 27 years of independence.
As Brother Malcolm X once said, “The system can make the criminal look like a victim and the victim look like the criminal”. Swapo is therefore not a victim and neither is the President, so let’s not feel sorry for ourselves but rather respond to every negative action, with a positive reaction. No one can make Swapo or the President become victims.
Let us simply deliver, deliver and deliver; deliver on the promise of industrialisation, deliver on the promise of job creation and deliver on the promise of a united Namibian House characterised by shared prosperity. Let us always demonstrate a principled position in carrying out our duties.
We have a responsibility not to fail our people so we should simply deliver, embracing the ethos of hard work and avoiding the lure of personal wealth and the pursuit of selfish gains.
We should always exude the values of an inclusive society, and focus on increasing prosperity to benefit the disadvantaged, and ensure that we continue to take each and every Namibian towards the attainment of a dignified life. We have already made a significant impact in this regard by increasing the old age pension from N$600 per month, to N$1,000 per month, in 2016 and by a further N$ 200 to N$1,200 in 2017. The impact of this intervention may be downplayed, but we are aware that social pensions are effective policy instruments for achieving just and more equitable societies for all ages. Having declared all-out war on poverty and corruption, social pensions will play a vital role as part of our anti- poverty policy and therefore, the impact of our intervention in this regard should be fully quantified and appreciated.
When we declared all-out war on corruption, I was warned that many corrupt people would react by attacking me through the press. Well, recently we have read and witnessed the manifestation of that warning. It is a sign that the fight is working, so let us continue.
As I have mentioned earlier, Namibia is recognised globally as one of Africa’s success stories. Mo Ibrahim once said, “Africa’s success stories are delivering the whole range of the public goods and services that citizens have a right to expect and are forging a path that we hope more will follow”.
Over the years, we have continued to improve our delivery of public goods and services that our people rightfully expect. Let us continue to forge a p a t h that others will follow by rededicating ourselves in 2017 to delivering in each and every sphere that encompasses our duties.
There is still a long road ahead on the path towards the attainment of our aspirations, but united we shall persevere, united we shall overcome and united we shall be victorious. From this point on, let us rededicate ourselves to realise the dream of a developed and prosperous Namibia. Long live the Republic of Namibia.
* This is an edited excerpt from the statement by President Hage Geingob on the occasion of the opening of the first cabinet meeting of 2017 on 14 February.