Thursday 6 May 2021
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On Harambee, green schemes and the poverty fight

Mathias Haufiku

As President Hage Geingob prepares to announce his much-awaited Harambee Plan, Namibians will be particularly eager to hear what it entails while others are keen to hear how the President will convince the nation that the Harambee Plan is not in any way replacing the ongoing National Development Plan 4. Those who refused to support the plan out rightly have been called all sorts of names and even labelled anti-Geingob, but is it really fair for people to support pure rhetoric without them seeing the contents of the proposed Plan? A few nights ago, Geingob’s economic advisor Dr. John Steytler was on national television claiming the Plan is not a replacement of NDP 4 or the Vision 2030 policy, but it is rather an action oriented plan based on the needs of today. Those who watched the broadcast, partly deduced that NDP 4 is not in touch with the county’s current needs because “it is more long term”. Does this mean Harambee is a quick-fix plan? Government crafted NDP 4, so if it feels there are new developments in the country that the plan is not addressing why can the plan not be updated? Or why can the proposed contents of the Harambee Plan not be included in NDP5 which is less than a year away? President Geingob, the nation is waiting to hear how the Harambee Plan will ran concurrently with the NDP’s. And more so, if the two can run at the same time, will sufficient attention still be given to the NDP? Harambee could threaten the success of the NDP during its final months, simply because officials might be inclined focus on the President’s plan, especially considering the fact that Steytler mentioned that key performance indicators will be     incorporated in the performance contracts of ministers.

The role of green schemes
The strengthening of green scheme projects featured prominently during the Presidency of former President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s tenure because of the immense role it can play to ensure food security. President Hage Geingob is on a drive to turn Namibia into a prosperous nation, but this can surely not happen if over 960 000 Namibian’s continue to be undernourished, so why then does green schemes not feature prominently in his plan to fight poverty? You hardly hear the President talk of how he wants to use the green schemes across the country to boost his war against poverty. To save costs and ensure a secure supply of foods, especially to the mooted food banks, Geingob needs to ensure that resources are channeled to the agriculture ministry to strengthen the projects and by doing so ensuring that all the projects cultivate all hectares at their disposal.

Geingob needs to sit around the table with agriculture minister John Mutorwa and devise measures to ensure that the projects are harnessed to ensure food self-sufficiency. In fact, if all green schemes produce optimally, chances are high that they can sustain the seven food banks envisaged by government by 2017. Cold storage facilities such as food hubs that were built at a combined cost of at N$200 million should be utilized so that they can complement the food banks, better yet. The tendency of establishing laudable projects and neglecting them after hosting lavish commissioning ceremonies continue to haunt the nation. When the green scheme policy was introduced over a decade ago, the nation was promised that food security will soon be a reality in Namibia and that over-reliance on South Africa for food will be a thing of the past. Things turned out otherwise. We still eat what we do not consume and continue to import almost all the food we consume. It is not a secret that if South Africa decides to stop exporting food to Namibia, even those at the opulent State House in Auasblick where a meal is a snap of the finger away will go to bed without having supper. Food security is cross cutting across all spheres, if we fail to produce what we need and those supplying us cut the supply chain, all Namibians will starve and suffer-even those with the means to afford more than three meals a day.
Both Kavango East and West are home to six green schemes, namely Uvhungu-Vhungu, Shadikongoro, Shitemo, Ndonga Linena, Musese and Sikondo. For now, all of us will be waiting for Tuesday’s State of the Nation Address to get more insights on Geingob’s blueprint to fight poverty. And instead of more promises and plans, the time for implementation is now.

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