|June 10, 2005
President presents roadmap
Unity in the fight for development and against corruption was key themes of President Hifikepunye Pohamba's first State of the Nation address. Addressing both Houses of Parliament in the National Assembly chambers, the President told Namibians that the "superglue" holding the country together was unity. Nation building, he said, could not be achieved overnight, but he reminded the nation that Namibia's Independence came about as a result of this unity. "We should not forget that today we are the masters of this vast Land of the Brave, the land of our ancestors, because of unity. The destiny of this country is now fully in our own hands," he said. Unity, he noted furthermore, was a precondition to peace and development.
In a wide-ranging speech in which Pohamba documented progress in most sectors of Namibian society, he placed considerable emphasis on the need to boost the economy, saying it was vital in efforts to improve the living standards of Namibians. Government, he said, still faced a "mammoth" task in this regard and the high level of poverty in Namibia was a consequence of slow economic growth. While recognising that Namibia had made positive strides in many areas, the President said a lot still needed to be done. "The challenge before us is to search for technologies that are appropriate to our country, to identify appropriate partners and to move forward with renewed and sustained commitment, determination, optimism and hard work."
The President added that Namibia's economic policy reforms would continue to focus on addressing unemployment and poverty. "Economic reform is by no means an easy undertaking, but it is a task that we must face with courage and determination. The necessary reforms should include the enhancement of skills, promotion of labour-absorbing export sectors, improvement of access to finance, establishment of new financing vehicles such as venture capital and by increasing the local ownership of our financial sector," he said. The President said Government aimed to transform the economy from its heavy reliance on the production and export of raw materials towards industrialisation and manufacturing and in so doing expand the country's productive base, create jobs and effect skills and technology transfer. He expressed concern about Namibia's drop on the competitive ranking in Africa from fourth to fifth place and pledged to work closely with the private sector and trade unions to improve on this. The President said as a Government based on Swapo's principles, it strongly believed that education and training were key to achieving rapid socio-economic development. "We need to produce more sufficiently skilled and educated citizens for our workforce. Thus, there is a need to improve the quality of our education," Pohamba noted.
Pohamba also emphasised Government's attention to the vulnerable groups of society, saying that it would continue to provide assistance in the form of grants. Turning to the future, Pohamba promised that the Anti-Corruption Commission would be established soon, in line with his vow at the start of his term that he would root out corruption. Parastatals could also expect a tighter rein as legislation aimed at reforming their administration and management was introduced.
(The Namibian, Windhoek)