Economic Growth Summit is about optimism and resilience as hallmarks of successful nations
Today, 31 July 2019, President Hage G. Geingob, an eternal, but pragmatic optimist will deliver the keynote address at the two-day Namibia Economic Growth Summit convening under the apt theme, “Economic Revival for Inclusive Growth: Strengthening the Namibian House”. As occasioned by the global commodity crisis, what President Geingob will share with Namibians, delegates and the world at large is without question a defining prose and act in a Presidency that assumed a trajectory of leadership during a turbulent period. By pledging prosperity and inclusive growth for the majority, President Geingob entered Office on 21 March 2015 with a strong message of continuity, optimism and opportunity. For a nation that had nurtured peace and democratic governance, the pledge of prosperity spoke to the integrity and commitment of the President to fashion a better country for the many. As fate would have it, for the best part, a result of the crisis, the President had to invest a lot of energy to inspire the nation to be resilient and optimistic, which is the raison d’etre of many successful nations.
Yes, the transformational commitment to prosperity remains the thread and leitmotif of what President Geingob is seeking to achieve on the socio-economic front. But most unfortunately, the circumstances under which we found ourselves called for an obvious recast of Presidential action and language, specifically on the urgent question of how prosperity could be achieved at a time anemic economic growth.
The hand of the Geingob Presidency had been forced to preserve a delicate balancing act between transformational leadership on the one hand, and transactional actions on the other. Our economy did not create sufficient opportunities for job seekers, a condition sine qua non in the declared fight against poverty and shared prosperity, which are in essence transformational commitments. It is why over the past four years of Government re-engineering, President Geingob acknowledged repeatedly and candidly, “we should not let a crisis go to waste”. The latter is part of the larger explanation for the pivotal act of the Namibia Economic Growth Summit, which is about the President seeking collective understanding of the challenges confronting us, including the opportunities that can be harnessed, while moving forward together in the same direction. The act of setting up the Panel and the commitment to change the structure of the Namibian economy speaks to the stronger transformational impulses in the Presidential method.
There is in that impulse a grounded understanding that notwithstanding the circumstances and the difficult decisions that are taken by the President, Namibians share a history of optimism and resilience. These two values, essential for our survival as a nation are in the DNA of Namibia’s history, as its people rose from a gruesome Genocide at the turn of the past century. A few decades later, Namibians rejected Apartheid and the occupation of their land by waging a protracted and bitter liberation struggle from which they emerged victorious with Independence in 1990. As atrocious as these crimes were against Namibians, the nation emerged more resilient and more hopeful. We shall emerge stronger and better, and with lessons from the current economic crisis.
At this hour, we are traversing economic challenges with ten consecutive quarters of negative growth. The perverse effects of the drought compound it and the numbers of Namibians who rely on Government for drought relief continue to swell. Still, thousands among us flock to Presidential Town-Hall Meetings out of the conviction that with dialogue and the practice of accountable governance, a better tomorrow is possible. On other occasions they join and participate freely in the meetings of the Ancestral Lands Commission, an equally crucial undertaking stemming from the historic 2nd Land Conference of October 2018. Remarkably, the majority are ordinary Namibians with less opportunities but imbued with an admirable sense of resilience and in equal measure, optimism. They understand, arguably better than us that the nation in its long history will be about defeats and victories. Just like the French philosopher, Ernst Renan, our fellow Namibians understand perhaps better than us that the nation is not only a historical result, but it is a soul and a spiritual principle that should be nurtured. Just like Steve Biko who in I write What I like spoke over 40 years ago about “the envisioned self” in emancipatory terms, they comprehend and understand our collective agency as a nation to terminate, or at least lay the foundations to terminate a form of inequality that has been historically determined, and upsettingly modeled along racial lines.
Oddly, those to whom the Republic has given more don’t always appreciate sufficiently resilience and optimism as ingredients that make for successful nations. As President Geingob argues on many occassions, those with more should grasp appropriately that they have a duty to reach out and share more with the less fortunate for the nation to have meaning and to survive. There is no need to legislate on questions of wealth inequality, but a matter for our collective conscience to do what is just. As delegates converge for the Economic Growth Summit, the nobility of ordinary Namibians, marginal but passionate about the opportunity the nation, the Republic and its democracy represents will animate Presidential discourse and actions. More important, the idea of opportunity borne out of resilience and optimism should guide our dialogue, now and beyond as the nation crafts solutions in the democratic franchise. Out of our collective resilience, this unfolding Economic Growth Summit presents an opportunity to shape concrete actions that can shape an optimistic future, itself the basis of a sustainable and successful nation.
*Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is the Presidential Press Secretary
2019-07-31 07:10:58 21 days ago