President says poverty still afflicts too many

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John Muyamba

Rundu-President Hage Geingob has said government is aware of the challenges the country faces 27 years after Independence, especially the socio-economic hurdles that must be surmounted.

“We are aware that after 27 years we still face many uphill challenges, most specifically with regards to our socio-economic architecture. Poverty is a scourge that continues to wreak havoc in our lives, because if one Namibian is poor, then we all are poor and we will all pay a price for that,” Geingob said when addressing the main Independence Day celebration at Rundu on Tuesday.

“What I’m referring to in this instance is abject poverty, and not a utopian existence in which we are all millionaires and equal.

“We’re talking of the provision of basic necessities to our people in order to give them a sense of human dignity,” the Head of State said.
He further said for those with talent and ability, the government wants to create a favourable and friendly business climate, so that they will be able to generate wealth, not only for themselves, but for the country as a whole.
“At the same time, government will concentrate on fulfilling the needs of the underprivileged and vulnerable members of our society by bringing relief to them through the implementation of various existing and new social relief programmes.
“This approach is encapsulated by the Marxist dictum – ‘From each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” he said.
“Our problem of poverty has been exacerbated by the fact that we are currently in the midst of financial headwinds, which have necessitated that certain austerity measures be put in place. We took concrete steps to address the structural imbalances which we inherited. These are not problems that were created by Swapo or the government of the day, but the fact remains that Namibia still has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world.”
He said for that very reason the government embarked on a multitude of strategies to address poverty and inequality, and many other social issues, as per the country’s Vision 2030, national development plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which does not replace the former plans, but is aimed at fast-tracking the plans.
Geingob said in order to make an immediate impact on the quality of life of the most vulnerable citizens, government significantly increased the old age social grant. The old age pension is now pegged at N$1,200 and has thus doubled since 2014.
“This intervention has made a meaningful impact in reducing poverty levels, not only amongst our senior citizens, but our children as well, since many of our children are under the care of senior citizens,” the President remarked.
On other dimensions of poverty, government has decided to engage the nation through a process of public dialogue on wealth redistribution and poverty eradication and the outcomes of this dialogue will culminate in a blueprint on how to eradicate poverty in Namibia by 2025, he said.
“Aspects of the blueprint have also been prioritised and incorporated into the Harambee Prosperity Plan for fast-tracking, and in NDP5, to continue monitoring our progress towards the attainment of Vision 2030,” the President explained on Tuesday.

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