President Hage Geingob is up for a harsh review as the country celebrates its 26th independence anniversary, even though he has been in power just for a year. Critics question his priorities in addressing the critical economic issues of housing, unemployment and land ownership. He insists in response that he is up to the job and requires patience and fair judgement.
It’s an undoubted fact that the nation is divided over Geingob’s performance so far, praise singers continue to sing aloud while armchair critics continue with their crusade to drag the President into the mud. After a year in office, like our former Statesmen during their first year, Geingob did not have it easy as he settled into the driving seat. Those who are in his defence claim their man inherited a sinking ship, antagonists however claim that Geingob’s tendency of acting like someone who is in a senior government position for the first time should stop.
Geingob needs to be lauded for realizing from day 1 that the greatest obstacle as he attempts to lead Namibia towards prosperity is poverty and from the onset he made it clear that poverty will be his greatest enemy during his Presidency. But the nation is tired of the promises, they want to know when this highly-paid administration will deliver. Geingob made it clear that 2015 was the year of planning and that implementation will be in full swing come 2016.
Some of Geingob’s key moments so far has been the increase of the old-age pension from N$600 to N$1000; declaring his assets without being obliged to do so; receiving the African Political Leader of the Year Award at the 7th African Leadership Summit. Last night The Namibian held an analysis of the President’s first year in office, and the views expressed there were divided in favor and against Geingob’s performance. Some accused him of misusing the funds of the nation while others accused him of failing to prioritise government’s programmes. The majority of those who attended were young Namibians who are caught in between rich and poor.
Geingob made many promises during his maiden year, from jobs, public accountability, combatting corruption and to address the housing and land crisis. After all, this is a man who came into power carrying the hopes of 87% percent of Namibians, a sign that Namibians are comfortable to place their hopes in his hands. Geingob’s rhetoric when he entered State House also won many Namibian hearts. This was brought partly by the fact that Namibians know that the country has not been performing optimally in terms of growth and catering for the needs of Namibians.
His vision for a transparent and accountable public service is one that should be applauded, because accountability is a pillar neglected by many African governments. In its analyses on Geingob’s first year in office, Institute of Public Policy Research said Geingob missed some key opportunities to shine and to respond to the pressing needs. “While pushing the poverty eradication agenda, he has been seen spending excessively on a big government, as well as highly paid advisors, some of whom reportedly earn more than Ministers.”
Geingob constantly kept in touch with the fourth estate(media), this move was primarily meant to enhance transparency. Prioritising the needs of the nation is another challenge that Geingob faced, while thousands continue to languish in poverty. The public vehemently continue to oppose the construction of a new parliament which is estimated to cost N$2 billion and a new airport for N$7 billion. Under the current circumstances where access to basic needs such as water, sanitation and housing continue to plague those on the lower end of the income pyramid, we need to get our priorities straight. Another challenge is the unequal income distribution and the unfair allocation of the country’s natural resources. It is unfair that teachers, nurses and police officers continue to linger at the bottom when it comes to earning an income yet these are the very same people that we expect to protect, educate and keep us healthy. Of course all these challenges plaguing the nation are not Geingob’s making, but the hopes of thousands of Namibians rests on his shoulders to find a solution. Massive support translates into massive expectations and Geingob must make peace with the fact that the nation will continue urging government of which he is the head-to pull up its socks. They say if the citizenry make noise they have hope that government can improve, but when they are silent, they have lost interests in the affairs of government. As the President enters his second year, together with his administration, the nation should rally behind them because the fight to eliminate poverty needs a collective effort but he should also be open for criticism without losing his cool.
- Increased old-age pension
- Declared assets
- Endorsed servicing of 200 000 plots
- Expensive team
- Lack of
- Makes too many promises