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Namibia: 'Same Issues, No Solutions'

Namibia: 'Same Issues, No Solutions'
20 March 2023
The Namibian (Windhoek)
By Shelleygan Petersen, Donald Matthys
PARLIAMENTARIANS and analysts say president Hage Geingob is out of touch with the reality on the ground in Namibia.
His state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday failed to give direction and deal with the root causes of pertinent issues, they say.
Political analyst Rui Tyitende says Geingob has been harping on the same issues for the past eight years with no real solutions.
"The president has no clue of what to do with unemployment, poverty and inequality. The Namibian people are on their own, and no one is coming to their rescue," he says.
The president promised to "eradicate poverty" and rid the country of shacks within five years in 2017 already, Tyitende says.
"It is now evident that the president is physically in the State House, but mentally retired. We are in trouble," he says.
Political analyst and lecturer Erika Thomas says she hoped the Sona would highlight some indicators that would lead to tangible results and solutions to the socio-economic challenges facing the country, such as unemployment, education and health issues.
She says it is important for the president to determine how much funding is required to solve problems effectively.
"He failed to address how he would reduce it effectively with Namibia being one of the countries with the highest unemployment rate.
"Are there any policies to eliminate these issues?" she asks.
Thomas believes the government's role was not clearly defined in the latest Sona.
"The government wants to be both the player and referee, and that is impossible," she says.
She says the government should evaluate its operations and provide tangible interventions for improvement.
Labour analyst Sydwill Scholtz believes Geingob set the tone with the creation of jobs in the security clusters.
He says this intervention should be matched by private-sector job-creation efforts.
"... where people would be willing to take on the risk of growing their business to where we were before Covid-19 at least," he says.
Scholtz says the Covid-19 pandemic played a massive role in changes in the employment market.
"I don't think we realise the true state of unemployment and the ripple effect on our economy, and also on correctional services, because these are the individuals who end up in that system," says.
The labour analyst says the Sona was positive because of the close to 3 000 jobs to be created in the security sector.
Geingob on Thursday said the government plans to create close to 3 000 new police, prisons and Namibian Defence Force (NDF) jobs to address youth unemployment.
He warned that young people could turn to terrorism if they are not employed.
Geingob made a U-turn on his earlier call to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to cut the wage bill, saying his administration would be adding thousands of positions to the government's payroll.
The country currently has 107 000 civil servants.
During his Sona, Geingob raised the alarm over the country's unemployment rate, especially among the youth, which is said to be hovering at around 50%.
"If you declare a state of emergency, it must be a very, very serious matter. The unemployment of the youth is a serious crisis.
"Youth, if they are all going to rise up, it will be a crisis. We count the youth from 14 to 20. They can get guns somewhere. We are talking about terrorism. They are available. There is a danger. That's true," Geingob said.
He was last week responding to questions from opposition leaders in the National Assembly on youth unemployment.
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Vipuakuje Muharukua says he is disappointment in Geingob's Sona.
He says while the president touched on the state of the education, health and other sectors, he failed to provide tangible solutions.
"This was not an uplifting state of the nation address. I am disappointed," Muharukua says.
He says the president also failed to account to the parliament on the country's problems, adding he did not answer the second round of questions posed to him by members of parliament.
"The Constitution compels the president to come to the parliament and inform us about the implementation of past policies and how the policies will be implemented going forward. It is disappointing that he did not do that," Muharukua says.
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