The dose of medicine prescribed to President Hage Geingob by the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) is praiseworthy considering the fact our economy is akin to a sick patient because it has stagnated while jobs are scarce, and poverty levels remain high.
In his wisdom, the President on 21 March 2019 appointed the HLPNE and tasked this team for a one-year period whose mandate was to analyse the state of the Namibian economy and provide evidence-based recommendations that would result in its revival.
The report among a litany of issues puts under the spotlight policy interventions that couldn’t deliver the desired results. It touches on endemic inequality and the colossal wage bill in the public sector and the burden on state coffers of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The resultant recommendations are equally wide and broad but our take-away from this report will be narrowed to the proposal to ban the allocation of fishing rights vis-à-vis quotas in light of the Fishrot scandal whose stench has lingered since this massive scam was uncovered.
We chose to focus on this subject because there could be a backlash from a population that has for long felt the allocation of fishing rights continues to exclude the majority. Sentiment among the general population is that there is social injustice in the allocation of natural resources, specifically marine resources. The public feels beneficiation of the marine fishery resource is the preserve of the elite and the politically connected whose greed birthed Fishrot.
The dilly-dallying by the fisheries ministry to announce the successful fishing right applicants in what was expected to be a transparent process and the proposal on Wednesday by HLPNE to the President to have a fishing quota/rights allocation moratorium, could have a backlash from the public who argue the allocation is elitist and only for the so-called politically well connected.
Due diligence should be applied. There is a need for transparency. Namibia has one of the most economically unequal societies in the world. Further delays and postponements to announce the names of the applicants who met requirements for fishing rights could only antagonise the applicants who are in their thousands and this could also lead to resentment by the masses.
Government should ensure economic empowerment is broad-based, fair and benefits women, the disabled and other marginalised groups and it should not only be for the elite through whose hands the country’s wealth keeps being recycled without filtering to those who are in need.
Thirty years after independence it is unacceptable to have social economic injustice on this scale. This state of affairs is a recipe for resistance by the masses who will get tired of being excluded. On a good note the panel made an excellent recommendation when it suggested the allocation of free land among residents of informal settlements so that they can have a place they will call home. This segment of the population will finally have their own residential plots.
2020-03-13 09:56:29 | 19 days ago