Only nine days are left before Namibia, and many other countries in the global community, celebrates the New Year. This year had a litany of challenges on the socio-economic and political fronts.
Noteworthy this year was the robust elective congress of the majority Swapo Party held last month that saw the election of President Hage Geingob as the leader of the ruling party. And he and his team have now successfully taken over all the levers of power both at party level and in government.
This thwarted attempts by those who aspired to have two parallel power structures, as this would have created problems for Geingob if his rivals had garnered enough votes to take control of the party given the acrimonious nature of the campaigns that at times got very nasty and personal.
But this is now water under the bridge and we can only hope our leaders will now address more pressing issues such as reviving the economy and dealing with bread and butter issues in a much more pragmatic manner that would put Namibia back on track as it marches towards prosperity.
Our leaders should, in 2018 and beyond, critically look at issues such as the erosion of Namibia’s fiscal strength due to sizeable fiscal imbalances and an increasing debt burden that led to Namibia’s downgrade by the international ratings agency, Moody’s.
There was nothing to write home about the economic outlook for 2017, according to the Bank of Namibia when it forecast that economic growth would slow down because of contractions in the construction, wholesale and retail trade sectors. For 2018, however, the picture looks rosier. This year saw mass retrenchments in mining, fishing, retail and other sectors, as thousands were rendered jobless for a multiplicity of reasons.
The increase in incidents of human-wildlife conflict, especially in Kunene Region where marauding lions killed hundreds of livestock, was another headache as farmers, whose livelihood is livestock rearing, incurred massive losses.
The carnage on our roads has been a cause for concern, as countless precious human lives continue to be lost while many people end up with life-changing injuries and this burdens our health sector.
Youth unemployment is another cause for concern because there are just too many unemployed university graduates whose numbers are swelling the ranks of the growing army of jobless people. Joblessness could be a recipe for social unrest and this could lead to despondence.
We are hopeful 2018 will be better in terms of the number of jobs that will be created so that our youth and those who lost their jobs will be employed and that there will be more social harmony.
We wish our readers, advertisers and stakeholders a glorified and restful festive season.