Despite a potpourri of challenges, southern commentators believe Namibia has done relatively well, including bringing about peace and stability 31 years after independence.
Former !Nami#Nus councillor Jan Scholtz described 31 years of freedom as a continuation of peace, unity, harmony and stability enjoyed by all in an independent Namibia.
“For my personally it was a joyous moment, being reminded once again how fortunate we are to live in a free country,” he said.
In terms of achievements reached by government for the past years, he mentioned the construction of the Neckartal dam, access to flush toilets in rural areas replacing the old and colonial bucket system as well as the development of the Lüderitz waterfront.
“The biggest challenge faced in //Kharas region and Namibia as a whole is the timeous release of adequate funding from central government,” Scholtz emphasised.
The former politician added that as a result thereof, developmental projects cannot be implemented accordingly.
“Another big obstacle is the empowerment of small businesses in order to be included in the economic mainstream,” he said.
Scholtz further raised the concern that, after 31 years of independence, the ugly faces of tribalism and regionalism are now surfacing more prominently.
“This should give one reason to worry,” he observed.
He also said that with the prevalence of the coronavirus the problem of employment has now even increased further in the region as many businesses and industries were forced to close down.
“What is furthermore of concern in our region is the increased number of teenage pregnancies and accompanied abortions as well as substance (drugs and alcohol) abuse,” Scholtz emphasised.
He, however, remains optimistic and hails praises for past government achievements like free education till secondary level and more access to health services, which in his view is a clear indication that Namibia is still moving in the right direction.
Matheus Mumbala, Swapo party //Kharas regional coordinator, argued that Namibians should be happy and excited to be so fortunate in enjoying yet another year of freedom from colonialism.
“If you compare Namibia to 31 years back you will find a lot of achievements reached by government for the whole of Namibia,” he strongly emphasised.
Mumbala cited free education up to secondary level, access to more tertiary institutions of higher learning, including a medicine school as examples of progress in the area of education.
“I was so fortunate to have a heart operation carried out in Namibia by a Namibian health professional towards the end of last year, clearly showing how we excel in terms of health services,’’ he said.
The politician also said citizens now have more access to health services than before independence, especially in rural areas where government built health infrastructure and also attached personnel to these facilities.
Mumbala described the devastating drought as one of the biggest challenges the country is facing.
“Due to climate change it happened that most parts of the country did not receive any rains, contributing towards the drought situation,” he added.
The party coordinator went on that with the arrival of Covid-19, many developments could not take place as most of the available funding has to be diverted to address the pandemic.
“Despite all these challenges I believe we are still doing fine as a country,’’ he said.
Former Keetmanshoop mayor and now businessman, Basil Brown, said Namibia’s independence to him was the beginning of a new dawn of prosperity.
“When the apartheid South African flag was lowered 31 years ago here at Keetmanshoop stadium, tears rolled down my face,” he recalled.
Brown mentioned the newly constructed Neckartal dam, the food security project at Aussenkehr as well as the newly constructed railway line to Lüderitz as major achievements for the past years since independence.
“Diversity amongst each other is however our greatest challenge now which are in the end negatively influencing possible development in our region,” he raised as a concern. The business owner also called on the leadership to start joining hands in order to promote unity amongst citizens.
“As a country with so many resources and exporting raw materials without adding value to it, we need to overcome this challenge as a matter of urgency,” said Brown.
Brown went on to say unemployment however remains the biggest challenge which resulted in social dilemmas like poverty, crime and substance abuse.
He also said Namibia’s independence brought about business opportunities and security as all previous restrictions of location were removed.
“More people could now join into the sectors which before independence were just destined for a small group,” the former mayor added.