WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob in a speech read on his behalf at yesterday’s Workers Day celebration, urged all Namibians to embrace the culture of sharing – and if they are unable to do so, they must be taught to do so.
Geingob also said the problems of income inequality, corruption and poverty in Namibia will not be solved by government alone, nor by the private sector alone, nor for that matter by international friends of Namibia.
“These problems will be solved only by Namibians! Once we put aside the pursuit of self-interest and choose a position in life in which we can work for all Namibians, no burdens will bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all,” Geingob said in the speech read by Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa.
This Workers Day, Geingob said, let all Namibians follow the example of workers and sacrifice for the benefit of all!
He said as government, they will intensify efforts to finalise the Namibia Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF).
“I call on all stakeholders involved to handle this as a matter of urgency. During my 2018 Sona, I stated that employee share schemes are one of the most effective forms of broad-based empowerment,” he said.
In this regard, Geingob expressed his appreciation to private sector organisations that have heeded the government’s call for economic empowerment through employee share schemes.
“You have embraced the Harambee spirit and decided to become part of the solution and not simply complain about the problems. Namibian workers, Namibia, being a member of the international community, cannot escape the overbearing influence of geo-politics and resultant global economic uncertainties,” he said.
“We are living at a time when the world is facing various forms of economic crises and these have a direct impact on our economy and subsequently, the job market,” he added.
“Threats of workforce reduction by many multinational companies and foreign investors have increased the anxiety among our workforce,” he said.
Geingob says he understands this and that is why “we believe in regular tripartite dialogue between the government, unions and employers”.
“I am aware that there is a school of thought among some patriots that foreign investment is bad; that it hinders the growth of local enterprises, that foreign investors are only interested in resources and that Namibia derives minimal benefit from foreign direct investment,” he said.
“I wish to state that given our developmental aspirations, large inflows of foreign investments are a prerequisite for a sustainable, high trajectory of economic growth,” he said.
Geingob says for the Namibian economy to sustain positive economic growth, it needs foreign direct investment (FDI) to stimulate such growth.
“Our economy is simply too small to expect that local enterprises will carry the entire burden,” he said.
“The problem is that some, if not all foreign investors come on their own terms. We must see to it that all foreign investors who come here must come on our terms,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the government’s desire for FDI should not be interpreted as a sign of desperation.
“Namibia is a sovereign nation and Namibians have endured immeasurable suffering to achieve their freedom,” he said.
Thus, he said, it is incumbent on all foreign investors in Namibia to respect the dignity and integrity of the citizens of this country, most specifically the workers.
“As I have mentioned, our workers are characterised by a legacy of struggle that overcame inhumane and insensitive treatment at the hands of oppressors,” he said.
Therefore, Geingob said, “we can never allow our working men and women to be subjected to any cruelty and brutality at the hands of their employers, both local and foreign.”
“It is for this reason that I call on all business owners, investors and employers to treat workers with the utmost respect and dignity or face the full might of the law,” he said.