26. January 2018

Geingob: 'We need help'

President Hage Geingob says the government needs help in addressing post-colonial issues affecting the nation, such as inequality, unemployment and the land question. He made the remarks yesterday during a meeting with a Finnish parliamentary delegation at State House in Windhoek.

The delegation came to Namibia to look at possible ways of enhancing cooperation.

Geingob said although Namibia had maintained political stability since independence, the economy was still fragile and vulnerable to “external shocks”.

Domestically, he said, the country has been battling with problems of a socio-economic architecture “because of the high rate of unemployment and growing inequality that we have inherited”. Although the government was trying to address inequality, several parties must also come in to create job opportunities through investments and other coordinated efforts to address the problem. “For as long as the inequality is growing, we are telling people that we must join hands to see to it that we address this inequality to maintain peace and unity in the country,” Geingob said.

Turning to another hot issue, the President indicated that the ancestral land matter will be discussed at the second national land conference later this year. Therefore, he said, government needed a coordinated effort from all stakeholders to address the challenges referred above.

“One person cannot do it alone. Now, it's a question of dealing with processes and systems, like the civil service and so on, that must be properly managed, and professionalism must come in at institutions. We are looking at our friends to assist us with the second phase of the struggle, which involves the question of socio-economic relations and investments,” the President continued.

Internationally, Geingob said the country was also faced big challenges, where it is expected to open up its economy to attract investment, while remaining vulnerable to “external shocks”.

He said being a member of continental bodies like the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and the African Union (AU) was also a challenge to the country's economy.

Geingob noted that he was confused at how developing countries were told to open up their economies, while “powerful and advanced” nations were protecting their economic systems.

“We were told to open up to get foreign investments which we need, but the example we get from those who are powerful and advanced is that of protectionism, my country first – so it is a little bit confusing– are we supposed to open up? Because we are already a small and open economy, and we get exposed to external shocks very easily,” he said.

At the AU level, he said countries agreed to pay about 0,2% of their import bill to the continental body so that the “AU can be able to finance itself”.

Namibia, however, remains vulnerable in this agreement as opposed to other countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, “whose imports are below 40%”. Namibia's imports currently stand at 70%. “We cannot talk about independence, and others are financing us. So, we said we must have 0,2% of our imports to go to the AU, and people agreed.

“We [Namibia], are a little bit doubtful. We have two complications – Sacu membership – where we have agreed revenue-sharing systems. But if you look at our imports, it is about 70%, so us being already a small and open economy is going to make us suffer more. We will be paying more to the AU than bigger countries on the continent,” Geingob stressed.

Finnish speaker of parliament Maria Lohela recognised the efforts and progress made by Namibia in terms of development, adding that political stability in the country was a good example to many other countries in the world.

She added that Namibia has a lot of opportunities to grow the country's economy, and that her country will explore areas of co-operation in different sectors such as business and investment, tourism and matters related to education and gender-based violence.

“Namibia is a shining example to many countries in Africa and the world regarding the progress made in many aspects of development. We want to step in and build new and strong relationships,” she noted. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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