President Hage Geingob has called on Namibians to take ownership of the future of the country, reminding citizens that to get to the country’s destination of a well-developed nation, every Namibian must play a role.
Geingob was addressing the nation on Independence Day at a low-key event held at State House on Sunday.
It was attended by mostly cabinet ministers, Founding President Sam Nujoma, Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda and some public office-bearers, including Chief Justice Peter Shivute, Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi and National Council chairperson Lukas Muha.
“Let us renew our patriotism, our sense of solidarity and our love for our country, for these concepts are the mortar that bind us as a people and as a nation.
We should all endeavour to do what is best for our nation as a whole and support our quest to achieve a prosperous country,” Geingob said in his televised address.
He said the country has managed to achieve successes due to the efforts of Namibians with diverse strengths and skillsets, who continue to pull together in one direction to propel Namibia to higher heights.
“As we contemplate the future, let us appreciate how far we have come and take courage in the fact that from a poorly governed occupied territory, defined by racial hatred and division, we have managed to build an admirable home through unity, hard work and patriotism,” he said.
He acknowledged that Namibia is facing challenges, but said there has not been any nation or people in this world who have not faced challenges on the path towards destiny.
The President noted that Namibia today is a far cry from the Namibia of yesteryear.
“The Namibia we inherited at independence and Namibia today are miles apart. Without question, we have a better Namibia – a better country than the one which existed under Apartheid rule,” he added.
He said, at independence, Namibia had dismantled the infrastructure of Bantustans and collectively buttressed democratic institutions with the citizen as the ultimate sovereign, through regular and free elections.
“Our democracy, reinforced by effective governance, is the basis for peace, stability and the rule of law. By spending a significant percentage of our national budget on health, education, social welfare and infrastructure, we have managed to reduce poverty, which stood at 70% in 1990 to 18% today,” he said.
He said since independence, the country has continued to spend a large proportion of its resources on young people as an investment in a sustainable future for the country, a testimony that young people continue to receive priority.
Outlining the budget allocations for the youth under the different ministries, Geingob said young people will continue to receive priority under the difficult conditions imposed by Covid-19.
He added that the pandemic had tempered with independence celebrations but the nation’s spirit remains high because “no unwelcome visitor can ever diminish the pride and love that we share for Namibia”.
Reacting to Geingob’s speech, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora yesterday said Geingob from the onset raised a number of challenges facing the nation but shied away from mentioning corruption, lack of decent housing, unemployment, lack of potable water and the scarcity of land as challenges facing the nation since independence and where the government failed in material terms to address them.
He added that a significant number of Namibians would disagree with Geingob’s insinuation that the Namibia of today is much better than the one of yesteryear.
“That statement is true to the politically well-connected who were economically emancipated. But the man on the street, who witnessed a wider gap between the rich and the poor, will see it as a fallacy and an insult,” Kavekotora said.
He said Namibians are still yearning for a better life and government promises fell short.
“In the three decades of independence, the most notable achievement of this government was to enrich the well-connected to the detriment of the majority,” said RDP leader.
He said Geingob must acknowledge he is presiding over a divided nation.
“He must admit that there is no equity in wealth distribution. He must admit that he and his predecessors failed in addressing corruption and admit that fighting poverty through social grants is not sustainable,” said Kavekotora.
Geingob, he said, must also shy away from selective morality and acknowledge that Namibia’s public debt is not sustainables and poses a serious long-term threat.