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President takes charge

2020-03-23  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

President takes charge

President Hage Geingob at the weekend vowed to honour his social contract with the Namibian people, with a promise to tackle youth unemployment, income disparities and inequalities, and fight against corruption, poverty and hunger. 

Taking his oath of office in front of about 500 invited guests and dignitaries at State House, the president said his new administration will continue uplifting more Namibians out of poverty and inequality. 
“We have to continue our journey of social cohesion through the policy of national reconciliation. We have to continue our journey of ‘representative government’ buttressed by a sound governance architecture, which upholds the principles of accountability and transparency,” Geingob said. 

“We have to continue to build on our gains in the fight for social progression to uplift more Namibians out of poverty and inequality. 

We have to continue with determination to consolidate a robust macro-economic environment, where the fundamentals for growth and development are in place.” 
Geingob said his government will deliver, considering the confidence placed in him and the ruling Swapo Party. 

“Through democratic elections, you have once again placed your confidence in the Swapo Party and I to deliver on our national development objectives. We have entered into a social contract with you and this is the contract we will honour,” said Geingob while addressing the audience, which included his predecessors Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma. 

Regional leaders, including President João Lourenço of Angola, Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi and Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, also attended the inauguration. 
South Africa and Zambia were represented by their foreign affairs ministers. 
Geingob said the success of his government depends on the country’s active participation as citizens. 
“You have a responsibility to contribute towards the construction of a united, inclusive and prosperous house,” said Geingob. 

He further said as the country continues its march towards a common destiny, “let us do so in a spirit of unity, galvanised by hope and perseverance. Let us not forget that from a people who were divided, we have transformed this nation into a gem of democratic stability and social harmony”. “Let us, therefore, continue in the spirit of our narrative of pulling together in the same direction, in order to build our Namibian House,” he added. 

As president, Geingob said he shall never depart from the narrative of nation building.  “I am cognisant that national pride and unity are the two cardinal pillars that bind the people of our country. Over the next five years, we will reinforce these pillars to instil the values of national pride and patriotism,” said the head of state. 

Corona threat
The president also emphasised his commitment to tackling the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak that has led to thousands of deaths across the world. 

“Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate. It is a pernicious enemy that threatens all of us. In order to fight this invisible enemy, we must rise as one. We must emulate the brave deeds of thousands of Namibian men and women, who, from all corners of our country, rose as one people to defeat the brutal apartheid regime,” Geingob said. 

“Although the enemies we face today may be different, the resolve of the Namibian people remains as strong as ever. We shall never waver. Together, we shall overcome.” 
He said government will provide an economic recovery plan to mitigate anticipated negative impacts of the coronavirus on the local economy. 

“The single-minded objective is to stimulate quality economic growth and generate more jobs. We will do whatever it takes to safeguard our economic sovereignty and human dignity,” he said. 

Political commentator Nico Horn said it was refreshing to see the president referring to the fact that the public healthcare system is no longer based on race but one that provides a good service to its people. 
“The speech of the president is typical of most acceptance speeches – a brief overview of his and the government’s accomplishments over the last 30 years and a short summary of the road ahead. However, while the president, rightly so, refers to the fact that government healthcare is no longer based on race but a system providing good healthcare for all its people, I thought the president would also assure the Namibians that the deterioration of state hospitals will be turned around in his second term,” said Horn. 

“While stating his concern about corruption, the president did not give us an indication of a master plan to stop corruption in the public service. The president reiterated his concern about unacceptable inequalities in society. We all know the inequality is at least partly a racial issue Namibia inherited from the apartheid era. It is a good sign that the president still sees it as a priority in his next term.” 

IPPR executive director Graham Hopwood said it would be interesting to see government’s economic recovery plan as far as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak is concerned. 
“Covid-19 has caught us all off guard. So much has changed and will change that the speeches and decisions of the next few weeks will be more important than this one,” he said. 
“It was encouraging that he mentioned that an ‘economic recovery plan’ to deal with the Covid-19 fallout was being prepared.”

According to Hopwood, the new Cabinet will have to move swiftly to save the economy and the potential impact that the coronavirus has on the local health sector. 
Senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at the Namibia University of Science and Technology Admire Mare said Geingob’s speech was quite measured in most instances given the current national emergency that the country is facing at the moment. 

“He is certainly cognisant of the work that needs to be done to address the issue of unemployment, poverty and inequalities. The major issue will be coming up with a team of ministers that can implement his vision. Namibians are expectant and hope to see their lives change for the better,” he said.

2020-03-23  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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