Politicians will do whatever it takes to ensure government policies are lucidly written; however, nothing is seemingly done to ensure the implementation of those policies is equally done effectively and efficiently. The failure of the first Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) to meet most of its goals, and the failure by other government policies, such as the willing-buyer willing-seller land redistribution policy, which failed to solve the national land issue due to overpricing, pose as key points of reference. The second HPP is upon us; let us see what is promised for this great nation.
The HPP II that is to run from 2021-2025 is aimed at addressing economic recovery and inclusive growth. The national plan is made up of five pillars (effective governance, economic advancement, social progression, infrastructure development, as well as international relations and cooperation), with each pillar comprising various goals. Nonetheless, for the HPP II to be effective in terms of implementation and execution, it must ensure the goals are met.
The pillar of effective governance is made up of five goals. Regarding the accountability and transparency goal, the current government may be applauded for press freedom but the arrests of journalists on duty is a serious offence, while the lack of action by government towards the offenders indicates an inability to invest in rectifying self-made mistakes. Accountability is meaningless when we are still hearing about reports of corruption within state institutions. The strengthening of national anti-corruption mechanisms as a goal can only be effective if government is prepared to deal with the personnel and agencies that are responsible for the failure of the goal.
Improved performance and service delivery can only be achieved when the performance management system is effectively utilised. The public has the right to know the public office bearers and institutions that have failed to honour their performance agreements. In terms of service delivery and e-governance, other government entities and institutions should emulate the Bank of Namibia and the City of Windhoek regarding effective e-governance; the central bank and the Windhoek local authority have active websites that are well designed and operated.
Economic advancement makes up the second pillar and it is aimed at achieving three goals. In relation to optimising stewardship of natural resources and public assets, the idea of coming up with a sovereign wealth fund is a good one because a country such as Singapore, with no mineral resources or strategic state assets, was able to develop with total reliance on the sovereign wealth fund. The establishment of a sovereign wealth fund and a solidarity wealth tax could be a swift way towards achieving ultimate economic growth. Nevertheless, it looks like government is reluctant on taxing the rich to address the challenges of the poor.
Enhancing the productivity of priority economic sectors is by far a key role and government should look into prioritising the agricultural, tourism, fishing, mining and manufacturing sectors. Creating public private partnerships within these sectors can seriously address the unemployment factor and enhance the ability to produce more for both local consumption and international exports, which will later result in absolute economic growth.
The social progression pillar comprises five goals to be achieved. Zero deaths because of hunger poverty was a goal in the HPP I – but statistically, that was never achieved; people still die of hunger. However, there is no country (developed or developing) in the world without any death as a result of hunger poverty. The delivery of urban land, housing and sanitation goal in relation to the HPP II can even be achieved within the first year. The new goal is aimed at servicing 24 000 plots by the end of prosperity plan, which will still not solve the land and housing issue in Namibia.
Government failed to service 200 000 plots that were agreed with the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) and government further failed to construct 20 000 new houses, 50 000 rural toilets and the removal of the bucket system as per the social progression goals of the HPP I. What makes us think that 20 000 housing units, to be allocated by 2025, will solve the housing problem in Namibia? Clearly, this is a fairy-tale being sold to us by government.
Improved access to healthcare is a crucial goal, more especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The national upgrade of our health facilities is a story that needed to be put in action as from yesterday, but the capital budget does not speak towards its realisation. The goal regarding the professionalisation of sports in Namibia is an issue; I will rather not dwell much on it, as it needs its platform to be addressed – but I would say we are far behind the thought of thinking about going professional.
Practical measures, such as the adoption of a national sex offenders’ register, will help reduce sexual violence against women and children. Awarding bail to those who are accused of gender-based violence is a luxury and it does not support the fight against gender-based violence. There is a need to re-address the policy as a bill to prove momentum of action to Namibians who cry on a daily about getting change and not just “talks” that become silent after the rage of the people settles. No mercy should be shown to abusers.
The infrastructure development pillar is of significance because there is a lack of infrastructure in Namibia, which is more worrying, considering vision 2030 that is to be attained in less than nine years now. I believe the prospect of providing electricity to every household in Namibia is possible but the fear is experiencing constant national load shedding.
The success of the agricultural sector in the provision of food security will depend on the accessibility of clean portable water supply. The continuous development in terms of roads, upgrading of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA), and the expansion of network coverage to various parts of the country are good investments toward infrastructure development and national economic growth. Thus, if the country keeps investing in infrastructure development at the pace it is currently doing, Namibia, by 2030, stands a chance of being much closer to the idea of becoming a developed country.
The fifth pillar is made up of international relations and cooperation; the pillar is aimed at enhancing economic diplomacy for economic recovery. International relations and cooperation have to work hand-in-hand with information communication, whereby people in remote areas of Bethanie, Bukalo and Onekwaya should be made aware of the HPP II and how it will benefit them on the international front. The international relations and cooperation pillar is the link to the success of the HPP II – and without proper communication, the inflow of foreign capital, in terms of returns and investments, can be compromised. Through the international relations and cooperation policy of 2016, Namibia should find ways on how to encourage more trading on a one-on-one basis because through that, we will be able to quickly enhance economic diplomacy and guarantee quick economic recovery.
The development of any country is centred on economic growth, industrialisation, education and infrastructure development. Other aspects, such as the welfare of people, the preservation of peace and stability, and the rule of law are huge contributing factors. Overall, the HPP II is an unguaranteed success because its goals are narrowed down and not too ambitious. Hence, I will allude that the goals of the HPP II need some adjustments to meet a five-year plan. The annual review of each goal and activity will further help the HPP II to succeed.
As for now, we shall wait and see if government has learnt its lesson from the past elections as a result of their empty promises and the need to take action or we shall brace ourselves and await for HPP III.