New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia Is Free Forever

editorial

Yesterday, March 21 the majority of patriotic Namibians marked the nation's 23rd independence anniversary with the main event taking place at the Oshakati Independence Stadium in Oshana Region.

March 21 will forever remain monumental in the annals of our beloved motherland's history, because it is on this historic day Namibia became an independent, self-governing State with a democratically elected President.

The Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, spearheaded the Namibian war of liberation waged by SWAPO. This brutal guerrilla war for self-determination in which thousands of Namibian liberation heroes and heroines paid the ultimate price lasted from 1966 to 1988, pitting SWAPO against the minority, apartheid government of South Africa.

The precursor to our independence struggle was the historic battle of Omugulugwombashe when a group of SWAPO fighters launched an attack against South African colonial forces.

Omugulugwombashe served as a catalyst triggering a massive exodus of adult and young Namibian men and women, who went into exile to take up arms against colonial South African forces who were among the main pillars propping up the apartheid segregative system where discrimination was institutionalised.

The Old Location Massacre on December 09 1959 was another watershed in Namibia's resistance movement. On that date more than 13 people were brutally killed by colonial forces because they did not want to be relocated from Hochland Park to the new township of Katutura. Their forced removal was part of the apartheid policy to segregate blacks from whites and to allocate the best areas of the country for themselves.

Apartheid allowed "whites only" jobs, blacks were not allowed to vote and they also received so-called Bantu Education, an inferior education resulting in the present skills deficiency in both the public and private sectors.

Another colonial legacy that continues to make Namibia one of the most unequal societies in the world stems from blacks being forcefully removed from the most fertile land - without any compensation - and settler farmers were given this land.

The skills deficiency in both the private and public sectors has been identified by experts as one of the major bottlenecks for our sustainable development.

But it should be pointed out that since independence one of Namibia's major political achievements has been the smooth transfer of power from one president to another, which bodes well for socio-economic development.

Good governance and sound macroeconomic policies are the hallmarks of Namibia's political stability and the country has sound democratic institutions and an independent judiciary, while its constitution allows for a free press.

Since independence, Namibia has outperformed many sub-Saharan African countries in terms of political stability, human rights, peace and civil liberties.

In the Africa Competitive Report 2008, produced by the World Economic Forum, Namibia was ranked fifth out of 25 countries on the Competitive Index, only trailing Botswana, Tunisia, South Africa and Mauritius.

The National Development Plans (NDPs) are the main instruments for the implementation of policies and programmes to achieve Vision 2030, an ambitious economic blueprint that will see Namibia become a developed country by 2030. NDPs are also designed to reverse the inherited colonial legacy of high-income inequality and poverty through pro-active policies such as the Green Schemes and Land Reform, through which landless Namibians are being resettled.

Of course, there are challenges such as the high rate of HIV/AIDS and a large unskilled labour force with meagre skills, but it should be noted government has since independence invested billions of dollars in the ministries of health and education to remedy these challenges, partially attributed to our painful past.

During his address to the nation yesterday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba in a nutshell stated: "I am proud to say that Namibia is independent forever. As an independent nation we have created a stable and democratic society in this republic, where all our people have the opportunity to realise their potential."

Namibians irrespective of political inclination should be gratified by the fact that since we attained independence our progressive government has always strived for an equal, prosperous, educated and knowledge-driven society.

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