Namibia: Geingob Vows to Spur Economy

Namibia at 30

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob says he will present a recovery plan to mitigate anticipated negative impacts on the country's economy, in the midst of the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Geingob said the new government, which assumes duty this week, will focus on stimulating economic growth and generating more jobs.

He added that the government will do "whatever it takes" to safeguard the country's economic sovereignty and human dignity of it's citizens.

Geingob made these remarks during a packed inauguration ceremony at State House in Windhoek on Saturday where he was sworn in for a second term as president.

He won last year's presidential election by garnering 56% of the votes cast, defeating his closest rival - dentist-turned-politician Panduleni Itula into second place with a 30% approval from the electorate.

Itula has since unsuccessfully challenged the outcome of that election in the Supreme Court, despite the court ruling that the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without a verifiable paper trail in that election was unconstitutional.

Geingob's inauguration, which coincided with Namibia's 30th independence anniversary celebrations, saw more than 700 people, including a number of foreign dignitaries converge on State House.

This is despite Namibia banning public gatherings of more than 50 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

The banning of public gatherings is part of measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The independence celebrations - a public gathering that was planned for Windhoek, was also called off earlier this month.

At the event, Geingob said he was aware of what effects the novel coronavirus could have to the local economy.

He acknowledged that the emergence of Covid-19 places Namibia's economic recovery efforts in jeopardy. Namibia's economy has been on the downward spiral for the past five years.

Government officials have continuously blamed this negative growth to "external shocks".

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus halting several economic activities in the world, Geingob said his administration will come up with new initiatives to protect the local economy.

"In the midst of challenging economic conditions, exacerbated by Covid-19, we will present an economic recovery plan to mitigate anticipated negative impacts on our economy. The single-minded objective is to stimulate quality economic growth and generate more jobs.

"We will do whatever it takes to safeguard our economic sovereignty and humanity," Geingob said.

The president added that the outbreak of the coronavirus presents one of humanity's greatest challenges of the 21st century but expressed hope that Namibians and other nations had the ability to survive "this monumental challenge".

"In the face of this threat to our way of life and future prosperity, all Namibians must embrace the spirit of unity. Covid-19 doesn't discriminate. It is a pernicious enemy that threatens all of us. In order to fight this invisible enemy, we must rise as one," Geingob said.

The president said going forward, Namibia under his leadership will continue to count on its gains to fight for social progression, and uplift more Namibians out of poverty.

He added that Namibia must also continue its journey of social cohesion, through the policy of national reconciliation.

"A society that is structurally unequal, can never last forever. Although the odds appear to be stacked against us, we will summon the courage and ingenuity to continue with the work that we have commenced with a sense of unity and common purpose," Geingob said.

Geingob also called on Namibians to unite and embrace the narrative of One Namibia, One Nation. He said the peace and stability Namibians have enjoyed 30 years after independence came about through sacrifices by other brave Namibians so that "we can pursue our aspirations".

"There can be no other home for us but Namibia. We might be from different regions, different races, different ethnic groups, but we are all Namibians. [... ] Together, we can fulfil the promise that tomorrow holds. No matter how daunting our challenges, no matter how difficult our path to prosperity, I intend to honour our social contract," Geingob stressed.

Foreign presidents and dignitaries who attended Saturday's inauguration gave congratulatory messages to Geingob and Namibia on the occasion of the country's 30th anniversary celebrations.

Geingob thanked them for risking their lives to attend his inauguration.

"I want to thank my dear friends and brothers for their bravery. They risked their lives to come here. They couldn't be here if they didn't feel that they were my brothers and my comrades," Geingob said.

COMMEMORATIVE BANKNOTE

Geingob also launched a commemorative banknote on Saturday that was designed by the Bank of Namibia to celebrate Namibia's 30th independence anniversary.

Bank of Namibia governor Ipumbu Shiimi said the reasons for launching the commemorative N$30 note was to appreciate the peace and stability the country has maintained since independence.

Shiimi said the freedom of expression that "our youth is enjoying in Namibia today, is not enjoyed by countless people across the world".

"We need to celebrate this day in different ways. In doing this we are not oblivious to the socio-economic challenges that we are facing, but we need to look back at the journey that we have travelled so that we can make further progress.

"Let this note be a reminder that through unity, peace and stability, we have climbed many mountains together and through unity, we are going to climb even many and more challenging mountains together but we are going to succeed together. Let this be a source of inspiration for all of us to redouble our efforts, work hard to make Namibia a prosperous, inclusive country for the sake of the Namibian child and future generations," Shiimi said.

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