14 May 2018

Namibia: 'Invest More in Education, Health'

FOUNDING President Sam Nujoma has urged the government to invest at least 50% of the national budget in education and health because the country was lagging behind in these sectors.

The budget for the education ministry was N$11,9 billion for the 2017/18 financial year, and more than N$13 billion for the 2018/19 period.

For the health ministry, the national budget allocation was N$6,5 billion for both 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Nujoma, who celebrated his 89th birthday at the Etunda village in the Omusati region at the weekend, told some of Namibia's first locally trained doctors on Friday that at the rate training was going on in Namibia, it would take years to catch up with the rest of the world.

Although there has been some progress in the health sector, more work still needed to be done.

"The only thing to do is spend money well. Invest more than half of government's budget on education and health," Nujoma reiterated.

The doctors visited Nujoma on Friday morning to wish him a happy birthday before proceeding to assist at the Okahao District Hospital, Indira Gandhi Clinic and Etilyasa Clinic.

Although Nujoma expressed concern with the influx of Angolans seeking medical services in Namibia, he called for major cooperation with Angola in the education sector to enhance the development of the two countries.

"Please assist them (Angolans). Do not turn them away, as Angolans were our biggest supporters during the struggle for independence," he urged the doctors.

The health ministry recently froze all vacant positions for nurses, pharmacists and dentists because of financial constraints. Nujoma's birthday was celebrated under the theme "Building the future through unity and solidarity".

The theme, he said, implored Namibians to pause and reflect on the journey towards the attainment of freedom and independence.

Nujoma said the unity and solidarity which bonded the people during the struggle should remain to inspire as "the bond did not come on a silver platter, but was forged in the crucible of the struggle and cemented in blood".

He also condemned the abuse of alcohol and drugs by the youth and adults. "They spend their valuable time at cuca shops, and later go and abuse and kill our mothers and young girls," Nujoma said, adding that this must end. President Hage Geingob told the gathering that Nujoma motivated "Namibians from all corners of our vast land and beyond, to act towards achieving our common goal - an irreversible process of attaining independence in Namibia".

"Let me assure you that there were moments, dark days when morale was low, our physical strengths tested, and when comrades did not believe in the aim and final goal of an independent Namibia," he said.

Geingob noted that under Nujoma, and in the initial years, Swapo was a collection of unrecognised freedom fighters who believed in their country and their right to be free.

Nujoma's tenacity, he added, transformed Swapo into one of the most recognisable brands in the history of liberation movements in Africa and the world.

Others who spoke at Oonguxi on Friday included Ben Mulongeni, who said Nujoma fought many racist commanders-in-chief of the well-armed fascist troops of successive colonial regimes, including some of the architects of apartheid policies such as Magnus Malan, John Vorster and others, but he did not waver.

Former Swapo Party Youth League secretary Elijah Ngurare warned against tribalism, and urged Namibians to unite and promote nationalism.

- tuyeimo@namibian.com.na

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