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Opinion - What is the role of governors in economic development?

2021-06-15  Staff Reporter

Opinion - What is the role of governors in economic development?
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Godfrey Tubaundule 

Recent remarks by the head of state confirm that indeed, some regional governors are under-performing. Building on the President’s remarks a week ago, this article provides 13 issues governors should annually address to (a) make themselves relevant in the current turbulent political environment, (b) please their appointing officer (c) promote the wellbeing of the citizens of their respective regions, and (d) build their personal legacy. 

First, governors should oversee the efficient and effective spending of their regional budgets. This means they should demonstrate the ability to ensure that development projects and programmes in their regions are completed timeously, successfully and without waste of finances and in line with desired outcomes. 

Historical evidence shows that for decades, some governors have celebrated the idea of under-spending their regional budgets. Under spending, is a crime as is unjustified over-spending of the budget. Against this background, governors have an obligation to monitor and account on how every penny committed in the regional budget has been spent. Governors should know that the tendency of celebrating under-spending is an offence to the poor of the poor in your regions. 

There is absolutely no reason given the political powers that you possess some communities in your respective regions should live with chronic water shortages and experience poor health conditions or energy crises.  

Second, regional governors should advocate for the economic survival of small businesses, such as hairdressers, manicurists and restaurants. Citizens believe that small businesses such as these can profoundly contribute to the socio-economic development of their families and communities. 

Worldwide, small businesses are the economic mainstay of poor communities as they bring growth and innovation to the local economies in which they operate. It is important that regional governors should begin to listen to the plight of small business operators so that you are regarded as caring politicians of your time.  

Third, regional governors must promote manufacturing enterprises in their regions. Manufacturing is the highest activity that indicates that the country and regional economies are moving towards the apex of development because it adds value to raw products. Every region in Namibia is rich in different types of raw materials. The question is how do citizens of the 14 regions benefit from such raw resources? One wonders how governors as political gatekeepers liaise with the ministry of industrialisation and other stakeholders to promote manufacturing at regional levels. Governors have no one to blame for the absence of manufacturing opportunities in their respective regions and in Namibia. 

Regional governors should shape up or ship out! Namibians expect you do more than what you are doing now.  

Fourth, regional governors should promote investment in infrastructure development. Sewerage, water, electricity, transportation and communication system are key to the economic development of regional economies. 

However, infrastructural development requires the smart political leadership of regional governors. Governors should harness beyond political lines different regional human resources to produce creative ideas, products and services that will drive regional and national economies for the benefit of all citizens.

Fifth, regional governors should promote both large- and small-scale farming projects. Regions across Namibia have unique land biomes that can determine the type of farming activities such regions may undertake. 

The destiny of each region, therefore, rests on the shoulders of the acuteness of the regional leadership – mainly regional governors. Young people are waiting for your call inviting them to participate in your development agenda.  

Sixth, governors should inspire the development of youth projects. Undoubtedly, the youth are the future leaders of this great republic. Unfortunately, political leaders only pay lip service to the youth’s plight. No country, including Namibia, will ever develop without young people. 

Regional governors should, therefore, advocate for a youth development sensitive budget. Remember that one day when you retire from active politics, the youth or their descendants will ask you what you did for them when you were at the helm of the political structure.   

Seventh, regional governors should preserve agroforestry systems to help create environmental, economic and social benefits for all regional and national citizens. Governors of desert-like regions should encourage afforestation, while those endowed with tropical-like vegetation should emphasise the legal harvesting of trees and shrubs. 

The current illegal harvesting of timber by international conglomerates in some regions in northern Namibia should be disallowed or controlled within the limits of the laws and policies of the country. Regional governors should promote a sustainable balance between growing the economy and preserving the environment.  

Eight, as chairpersons of disaster management bodies in your respective regions, governors should adopt proactive approaches on how to mitigate both human-made and natural disasters. Regions across Namibia are prone to droughts and floods, which continue to negatively affect your citizens at different times of the year. Pro-active approaches are possible if governors involve experts from diverse fields to develop a system-wide disaster management framework. The key question is, are regional governors proactive or reactive political leaders? 

Nine, regional governors should promote the concept of education for all. Governors are the political chief executive officers of their respective regions. The question, however, is, are governors aware of the education situation in their regions? How often do you meet senior education executives to interrogate various educational challenges in your region? Are you aware of the key issues that negatively affect school success in your respective regions? Remember that your investment in education today will pay the best dividends tomorrow – many future leaders will thank you for your wisdom.  

Tenth, governors should advocate for an effective health system. An effective health system partially depends on the provision of timely and quality preventive, curative and rehabilitative care to the needy. The brutal truth is that the public health system in Namibia – and more so in the majority of the 14 regions is unsatisfactory. For example, the ambulatory service across the country is broken. 

Citizens expect regional governors to step into the health administration to support an effective and responsive service delivery system for all. Health is a fundamental human right that everyone is entitled to enjoy, including the poorest citizens of your region. Your silence as governors to issues of poor service delivery in your regions is harming the plight of the vulnerable and marginalised groups in your regions. 

Eleventh, governors should ensure that the issue of climate change is at the centre of their political agenda. It is time that leaders in our country, including regional governors, begin to give due diligence to issues of climate change and global warming. Climate change, including global warming, are real and thus require everyone’s attention. Governors should mainstream climate change in their speeches. Also, they should seek expert advice to guide them promote and implement various projects and programmes to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

Twelfth, regional governors should daily promote peace and stability in their respective regions. Peace and stability are important ingredients of human survival. Namibians of all walks of lives yearn for a stable life as enshrined in the constitution of their motherland. Regional governors must therefore exercise their political powers and influence to ensure that they make a difference in the citizens’ lives. 

Lastly, there can be no Namibia without tourism and tourists. Your regions have the potential to be the hubs of tourism. But what efforts in collaboration with the local tourism sector are regional councils taking to market the fauna and flora of your regions? Remember: You can decide to be the problem or the solution to the challenges your region and Namibia is facing!


2021-06-15  Staff Reporter

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