Friday 23 April 2021
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Getting through the economic storm

The country’s finances are currently in a precarious situation, and for a country that has enjoyed a relatively stable financial journey since Independence, it’s helter-skelter from north-south-east-west as everyone prays for better days Namibia’s financial situation comes at a time when saving was not a priority among the populace, politicians did not give a damn about prudent management of state resources and buying was the order of the day as can be seen with the supercar boom on our roads and mansions sprouting up in posh suburbs.
Currently, we are all looking at each other trying to figure out how things fell apart. As I wrote this I thought I should recite some classic poetry that is surely applicable to Namibia in its current state, Chinua Achebe’s award-winning novel-Things Fall Apart- written 58 years ago.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . .
The country currently finds itself in a state where not even the basics are guaranteed after years of resource plundering and complacent leadership. We’ve allowed things to degrade to such a bad state that we find ourselves in a similar situation with soldiers looking for their weapons on the battlefield. The whole situation was made worst by the fact that those responsible to manage the social, political and economic affairs of the country lived in denial despite the alarm signs.
“The country is not broke”, “Our financial standing is great”, “There is no need to panic”. These were phrases that were recited constantly by politicians who attempted to play down the situation. As soon as things hit rock bottom, surely someone had to take the blame, and the best candidate for that was the Global system. Politicians now all of a sudden know global politics as they attempt to save face instead of also taking blame for their contribution to this entire mess. It is my believe that if our policy makers had been honest and applied the precautionary measures in time, things would not have been as severe as they are right now.
You have parliament committees that cannot travel to the regions to carry out their oversight functions because there is no money, Government recruitment is frozen, companies not paid for work done, S&T allowances cut, budget cuts and many more. If the remedial action to save us from a total collapse were taken the moment the alarm bells were ringing I am sure the situation would not have been as dreadful as it turned out to. Firstly the finance ministry would have crafted the 2016/17 budget in a prudent manner instead of running around while the train is already in full steam.
Failure to anticipate the worst brings us back to what the former United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s executive secretary Dr. Carlos Lopes told us-as a country it is not sustainable to base your growth on projections or economic outlooks, it must be dictated by the statistics at hand. Statistics are key where planning is concerned. But at the moment we have a Government that plans for the future blindly and as much as we blame this situation on the external forces, we also had a big part to play in it. After all, we had a global economic meltdown in 2009, why was the country not hit as badly?
Namibia has a highly consolidated economy that has mainly advanced the elite to the exclusion of the unskilled. Except for a small team of politically connected beneficiaries, most people have looked to the state rather than to business for relief. This has translated into economic growth without expansion in the labour market. Remember TIPEEEG, Mass Housing, ETSIP and all the big tenders inflated by middlemen? Marius Oosthuizen, of the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, recently wrote in the South African media that South Africa is facing a cluster of crises. He wrote: “The root cause is that the ANC leaders ruling the country have an entirely different aspiration for the country from the one set out in the Constitution.”
Ask yourself as a Namibian, whether it is any different in Namibia, if your answer is yes then please contact me so that we can discuss it over a cup of coffee. I hope this difficult situation does not last long, but it is also my hope that we have all learned a lesson that it does not take much to destroy the good systems that are in place.

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