Planning Minister Tom Alweendo is optimistic about Namibia’s future, however, politicians who have overstayed in the system and have failed to deliver on their mandates should step down and give opportunities to other Namibians who can do a better job.
A handful of politicians who formed part of the country’s founding Cabinet continue to serve in that body 27 years later. Alweendo made these remarks at an event hosted by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in the capital this week where he spoke about the importance of development planning in shaping the county’s development goals. Responding to a question asked by a NUST student Elifas Helao Nghitomoka on poor planning in government programmes, Alweendo said: “I think the bigger question that you are asking is whether we have people who have stayed too long in their jobs who are not producing as they are supposed to produce and maybe they should give way to other people who can do a better job. To that I totally agree. If you have a system whereby you are given a responsibility and for whatever reason you are unable to perform that responsibility then obviously it doesn’t help us [GRN] to keep you in that position.” Alweendo said the country’s development can only move forward if the right people are put in the right positions.
When approached by The Patriot to pin-point who underperforming politicians were that ought to make room for fresher minds, Alweendo replied: “For me it does not matter whether you have stayed in the position for two years or 10 years. What matters is whether you are delivering. For example if [Tjama] Tjivikua has been at NUST for 10 years and people are happy with his job, he can stay.” On the downside, however, Alweendo acknowledged that government did not have the necessary mechanisms in place to track down underperforming officials. “For as long as we don’t have a system that can identify those individuals, then we are not doing justice to the development of the country,” he vaguely stated.
At the same occasion, Alweendo announced that the highly-anticipated Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) will be launched by President Hage Geingob on 31 May 2017. Alweendo said the “inclusive” development plan will encapsulate four key goals, namely: inclusive and sustainable economic growth, build capable and health human resource, sustainable environment and good governance. The Minister pointed out that NDP5 will be an inclusive plan in which no Namibian would feel left out as it is informed by all 14 regions in Namibia, civic organizations and the general public that were given an opportunity to make an input when the plan was in its draft format. He said: “We made sure that at the end of the day, we had a plan that is owned by everybody. The process was also informed by what was happening globally, the SDGs, Africa Agenda 2063 all have an influence on NDP5.” Alweendo added that during the formulation process for NDP5, the Economic Planning Ministry embraced the concept of broad partnership with potential beneficiaries – a lesson learnt from previous mistakes committed by development planners in Africa during the 1960s.
“As early as the 1960s, over 30 African countries had development plans in place. The plans were comprehensive but the biggest shortcoming was there was no local ownership of the plans. “We (Africans) relied heavily on foreign experts. As a result, these plans didn’t give us the results we wanted because we did not own these plans,” Alweendo explained. Alweendo was optimistic about the future of Namibia considering the development that has taken place 27 years after independence.
“We have to agree that there are challenges ahead of us but give what we have been able to achieve, it cannot be too difficult to overcome the developmental challenges ahead of us,” he said. To the contrary, Alweendo was quick to note that government does not have the luxury to operate “business as usual because the voices (disgruntlement) are becoming louder and louder”. The former Bank of Namibia governor also criticised Namibians who do not appreciate the positive development that government has been able to achieve.