22 March 2019

Namibia: Geingob Enumerates Independence Gains

Photo: New Era
President Hage Geingob.

President Hage Geingob yesterday marked the 29th anniversary of Namibia's break from South African colonial rule with a vow that Namibia has undergone tremendous transformation over the past 29 years.

"The Namibia of 2019 is a far cry from the Namibia of 1990. This, coupled with our hard won freedom, is an achievement worthy of celebration," Geingob said.

He took a swipe at critics who claim there was nothing to celebrate independence for.

"To the very few who are saying that there is nothing to celebrate, I say yes there is a lot to celebrate. This progress has buttressed our efforts to create a united, peaceful and prosperous society," he added.

Addressing hundreds people who gathered at the Independence Stadium to celebrate independence, Geingob enlisted the country's successes over the past 29 years.

He said the country has established the firm foundations of democracy, unity, peace and stability, and used them to develop a robust governance architecture, characterised by well-functioning processes, systems and institutions.

"Our track record in governance has been recognised both regionally and internationally and we are committed to continue strengthening our principles of effective governance, respect for the rule of law as well as respect for human life and dignity," said the Head of State.

He reminded his audience of the declaration of a war against poverty - made four years ago when he became president. "We have made tremendous progress over the years with regards to fighting poverty. We also made progress in fighting corruption by being transparent and accountable and by so doing, building trust for transparency + accountability = trust," Geingob said.

"Very few countries have been able to achieve poverty reduction rates like Namibia has achieved since independence," he stressed.

"So one can assume that with a new targeted approach towards combating poverty, we stand to make even more inroads than before," he added.

Geingob said in absolute terms, more than 400 000 Namibians were lifted out of poverty during the period from 1994 and 2010.

Also, he said, the introduction of targeted social safety nets, including old age pensions and social grants for people living with disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children, have played a significant role in reducing poverty levels in Namibia.

"We are cognisant that income inequality remains a problem in Namibia. This remnant of the apartheid legacy is a lingering thorn in the flesh and a hindrance to our developmental efforts," he said. In this regard, Geingob said the government will continue to formulate a legal framework focused on reducing the income gap.

He said while the government is committed to upholding the principle of fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution, which include the protection of private property, it recognises the urgent need for land delivery as a means to reduce poverty in the country.

Geingob cited last year's second national land conference as a pivotal moment in the nation's history and a definitive step towards effectively addressing the land issue, and thereby restoring the dignity of the people.

Geingob highlighted infrastructure up for development such as the rehabilitation and upgrading to dual carriageway of the Windhoek--Okahandja road in the Khomas Region; upgrading to a dual carriageway of the Windhoek-Hosea Kutako Airport road in the Khomas Region and the upgrading to bitumen standard of the Swakopmund-Henties Bay-Kamanjab road in the Erongo and Kunene regions.

Geingob said the government has done well but they are aware that more needs to be done.

"We are aware that some of our workers have lost jobs and thus their incomes and are suffering and facing uncertainty. Yes, we are aware of that," he said.

"Let me assure you that you are not alone, we understand your dilemma, we empathise with your predicament and we are working around the clock to ensure that we restore economic growth and job creation," he added.

Equally, Geingob said the sustained drought conditions have economically weakened most farmers, who have either lost large numbers of cattle or will not have a harvest this year.

"Within the limited budgetary means, the government will continue to assist these farmers through the line ministry," he said.

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