PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA
As we enter the second year of the fourth decade of our independence on 21 March 2021, which coincides with the implementation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II (2021-2025), it is self-evident that the journey of Namibia is one of hope, resilience and progress. Notwithstanding the collective challenges we face, Namibia is today a different country from the one we inherited at independence. During the past 31 years, we have taken the necessary actions to transform our economy through the establishment of a robust, Effective Governance Architecture. These decisive actions have paid dividends. As a result, many positive signs have emerged to enable Namibians to look into the future with renewed hope and determination towards a new frontier of prosperity.
Namibia has transitioned from a poorly governed occupied territory to a stable and peaceful democracy where citizens are the ultimate sovereigns and exercise their rights through regular participation in free and fair multi-Party elections. Due to our continued emphasis on Effective Governance, and focus on pressing socio-economic development challenges such as poverty eradication, economic transformation, health, education and housing provision as well as employment creation, great strides have been made. As a nation, we have endeavoured to redress the inequities of the past by spending a significant percentage of the national budget on the social sectors. Subsequently, poverty has drastically declined from over 70% in 1993 to 18% by 2016. The effective interventions of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, including the increase of the old age social grant by 100%, the rolling-out of Food Banks and drought relief programmes to all 14 regions have further contributed in the fight against hunger poverty. By spending 7 billion Namibian Dollars on a comprehensive social safety net framework, the Government sustains on average one million Namibians, annually. Moreover, indicators in governance, poverty and inequality, and infrastructure development demonstrate that the Namibian Government has progressively improved the quality of life of Namibians.
The progress and the results we have achieved are grounded in our planning and implementation efforts through successive National Development Plans, the SWAPO Party Programmes of Action and since 2016, the first Harambee Prosperity Plan. Building on the progress of the HPPI, the second Harambee Prosperity Plan will continue to solidify the narrative of an inclusive, prosperous and united Namibian House.
It deserves emphasis that under HPPI, progress was achieved against the backdrop of a very challenging domestic and global economic environment. As a small, open economy, Namibia was adversely affected by independent intervening variables, such as the global commodity crisis of 2014/5, currency fluctuations and recurrent droughts, recorded to be the worst in recent history and spurred by the Climate Change phenomenon. In response, the Government effected the steepest fiscal cuts since Independence with the objective of a more sustainable macroeconomic framework. To stimulate economic activity, the Government invested in strategic and enabling infrastructure projects, developed a coherent National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Policy and Financing Strategy, as well as interventions to attract alternative sources of funding through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Following the good rains in 2019 and 2020, Namibia was better positioned for positive economic growth and recovery. Regrettably, the COVID-19 global pandemic hit our shores on 13 March 2021 and impacted our prospects for economic growth and our socio-economic architecture in unprecedented ways. Without doubt, the destruction of COVID-19 on our economy will take years to repair.
Whilst staying true to the mandate of prosperity through targeted impact, the Harambee Prosperity Plan II has been re-engineered to strengthen our Effective Governance Architecture in order to better respond to the new socio-economic challenges that have been occasioned by COVID-19. In that vein, to achieve the envisaged targets in the Harambee Prosperity Plan II, the National Development Plans, Vision 2030, and the global Sustainable Development Goals, we are committing to bold and innovative actions in order to harness the potential of all citizens for an inclusive, united and prosperous Namibian House. Our progress as a nation can only be achieved if we continue to invest in preserving and maintaining peace and unity, which form the foundations of inclusive and sustainable development. Therefore, as we work together to achieve the targets in the Harambee Prosperity Plan II, peace and stability must be promoted as a means of advancing Effective Governance and service delivery.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan II is a product of intensive countrywide consultations with diverse constituencies of our country. The Plan is informed by prioritised commitments from the 2019 SWAPO Party Manifesto; the 5th National Development Plan; recommendations from the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE); the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want; the United Nations Sustainable Goals; and importantly, contributions by citizens from the length and breadth of our country during the 2019 Town Hall Meetings. Through these participatory Town Halls which lasted on average 7 hours per meeting, the President and Cabinet Ministers listened to the inputs of citizens and provided feedback directly. Moreover, the Plan has benefited immensely from enriching consultations held between July 2020 and March 2021 with political parties, civil society, the business community and academia. This inclusive process makes the Harambee Prosperity Plan II a truly Namibian document, which should be owned by each and every citizen. Indeed, HPPII is the commitment of the Namibian Government to deliver better results and to build a more resilient economy for the benefit of all citizens.
In HPPI, we had set forth bold and ambitious targets for ourselves. Yes, the mandate of Prosperity for All is without question a tall order. It is achievable. Prosperity for all is a noble endeavour, which we must pursue and one, which should guide all the actions of the Namibian Government. In Harambee Prosperity Plan II, we recommit to the same mandate, which is an important pledge we have made to the Namibian people.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan II will be executed in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant health, social and economic crises. In response to the pandemic, the Government executed a fine balancing act of managing the risk of the spread of the disease to safeguard Namibian lives, whilst mitigating the worst impacts on the economy. These measures included a prompt decision to restrict mobility, an unprecedented injection of resources into the health sector and a swiftly implemented stimulus package of 8.9 billion Namibian Dollars, including a cash transfer of 750 Namibian Dollars to over 769,000 eligible citizens. The wage subsidy and employee salary protection programme of the Social Security Commission benefitted 230 employers and 21,359 employees. These interventions have materially lightened the negative impacts of COVID-19 on Namibian lives, the public health sector and the economy.
In light of COVID-19 and other socio-economic challenges, the Harambee Prosperity Plan II presents an opportunity to build on the legacy of the past three-decades and guarantee a more secure future through resilient processes, systems and institutions. Now is the time to hold hands and build an economy that is inclusive and growth is shared. Together, we should continue with the work of building a society in which all Namibians pull together to fight against poverty, corruption, inequality, Gender-Based Violence and other social ills. We should continue the work of building a society in which citizens have the chance to pursue their dreams through equitable access to opportunities. This call is consistent with our motto of ‘No Namibian Should Feel Left Out’.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan II is premised on Effective Governance as an enabler of socio-economic development. Through the HPPII roadmap, I am confident that Namibia will strengthen its Effective Governance Architecture through responsive processes and systems, and accountable institutions that deliver quality public services. On Economic Advancement, our economic recovery programme will generate new and diversified frontiers of growth and will optimise the stewardship of our natural resources and public assets, while pro-actively pursuing opportunities in the blue and green economies.
Sustained investments into the social sectors are predicated on our ability to rebuild the economy. However, a society that does not care for the vulnerable or invest in social progression will leave many behind. In light of our history of systemic exclusion as the hallmark of the apartheid regime, and our pledge to eradicate poverty, we will continue to make the necessary investments in improving our health and education systems, whilst strengthening our social protection mechanisms.
Sound infrastructure is a catalyst for industrialisation and economic growth. Therefore, in an environment where resources are scarce, sustainable public-private partnerships are essential to fully leverage and deliver key infrastructure projects to spur economic growth and to realize the goal of positioning Namibia as a logistics hub with attractive world-class facilities.
Our struggle for the liberation of Namibia was supported strongly by the international community. It is for this reason our policy on international relations and cooperation is anchored on Namibia as a product of international solidarity, midwifed by the United Nations. As a consequence, we will continue to be guided by the values of justice and solidarity, whilst reaffirming our commitment to multilateralism as the best guarantor for a healthier and safer planet. We plan to strengthen Inter-Ministerial coordination to enable our global diplomatic footprint of missions and embassies to play a pivotal role in economic diplomacy to attract investments and grow our exports as a means to grow the economy in order to create employment, thereby eradicating poverty. We cannot achieve the goal of a prosperous Namibia, if we do not deepen regional integration and Pan-African solidarity. For this reason, our goals for a prosperous and inclusive Namibia will remain closely aligned with the plans of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want of the African Union.
Plans require diligent execution. Notwithstanding an execution rate of 74% for HPPI, valuable lessons have been learned in the process. One such key lesson is the need to establish a Performance Delivery Unit to improve execution, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting on all deliverables during HPPII. This will ensure that set goals and objectives are indeed met and that the reporting stays closely aligned to outcomes that impact in a tangible way on the lives of citizens.
To conclude, I recognize the urgency with which we have to deliver tangible improvements in the lives of all citizens. To realize this shared aspiration, I call on the commitment of all Namibians to work towards an inclusive, tolerant, resilient and prosperous society. A society where citizens are loyal to their country, and the Government is loyal and dedicated to serving their needs. As Namibians, let us hold hands to deliver on the commitments of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II (2021-2025) with utmost allegiance and enthusiasm.