The year 2017 presented the best and worst moments across the Eco-socio-political strata and will go down in memory as a year of mixed fortunes.This is a year where the county faced its challenges head-on succeeding at times and faltering at others.
Gloves came off in Swapo
Perhaps what goes down in memory lane vividly as the most talked about event of the year is the Swapo Elective Congress where President Hage Geingob took a clean slate at the elective congress. With his ‘Team Harambee’ made up now Swapo Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Swapo Secretary General Sophia Shaningwa, Deputy SG Marco Hausiku and of course the President clinched the Party Presidency.
The ‘Team Harambee’ as the President’s team was known seemed to silence critics from ‘Team Swapo ‘steered by veteran politicians Nahas Angula, Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana, and Helmet Angula who also lost their positions in the Swapo Central Committee and Politburo.
Although politics will live to be enjoyed another day the bumpy ride between the two camps in Swapo and different name calling tactics from Masalad Boys in an apparent reference to the younger generation of ‘Team Swapo’ to Harambee Werengendje for President Hage’s team, this political rollercoaster ride certainly gave Namibians a lot to think about. Whereas Comrade “unity” turned up for the ANC elective conference, he failed to make a turn at the Swapo Elective Congress.
And then, Swartbooi did the unthinkable
Well, what started off as a dispute over land not so long ago has now seen former Swapo Member of Parliament and former Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Bernadus Swartbooi forming a political party of disgruntled landless Namibians.
He doesn’t seem to be backing down from his challenge against the powers that be and continues on a roll declaring that it is actually warm outside Swapo for him unlike the popular belief that it’s cold outside the big tent. Whether his political exploits can yield results sooner than later, remains to be seen but 2018 will be a big year for that. Hopefully the long awaited land conference makes its overdue return.
Money, Money, Money
No one, I am sure would have wanted to be the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein in 2017. He has certainly had his fair share of torrid moments with the liquidity squeeze delaying payments to service providers and Rating Agencies from Moody’s to Fitch junking the Namibian economy.
As if that was not enough, his most reliable purse of revenue the Southern African Customs Union dwindled further by at least N$5 billion giving Government a headache with having to come up with quick acceptable solutions to tap into new revenue sources.
However one would say he exhibited a true fighting spirit and stood for what he believed in.
Jooste had to keep his head up
We all know the continued mismanagement of parastatals is as old as dinosaurs in Namibia and in any African country. The Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste will be the first to admit that it all wasn’t rosy in the SOE sector this year.
First, it was the drama associated with TransNamib strikes and board room wrangles, then came the proverbial sucker punch of the Roads Contractor Company which is now under Judicial Management, Namibia Airports Company and the irregular awarding of tenders by the previous board of directors and then the Crown Prince of scandals in the form of the SME Bank where the country lost more than N$200 million and had to lay off more than 200 Namibians due to reckless management decisions. The bank is now in liquidation.
Whatever the highs in this sector, they were in no way close to competing with the shortcomings. A breath of fresh air would be most welcome in the new year.
Indongo broke Namibian Hearts
We all love the high flying ‘Julius Blue Machine Indongo’ and his enthusiasm, but he lost it when we all expected him to rise. Many would like to speculate about how he lost his title fight against a rather experience Terrence Crawford at Madison Square Garden, but his loss will go down in memory lane as a heart rending moment for Namibian sport. We certainly hope that the many hours the Blue Machine is spending in the gym of late will produce a better 2018 filled with smiles and capacity crowds at Ramatex.
Challenging Year for Frank
Namibian sprint ace Frank Fredericks who touched the hearts of many in Africa with his athletic abilities in the 90s certainly had his worst year this year. From losing his mother, Auntie Riekie to stepping aside from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pave way for a corruption investigation.
The IOC investigation is still ongoing but all of us want our hero to come out of this unscathed. Certainly we will hear more of this in 2018.
Standing high where other wavered
Namibia continues to be a shining beacon of democracy rated as No.1 in terms of press freedom in Africa. Although we are lucky to be in a region where peace and tranquillity are the norm, Namibia’s feat is next to none in the SADC region. This aspect continued well into the 2017 and this is something the country ought to beat ourselves on our collective the chest for.
A Zimbabwe without Mugabe
Just the thought of mentioning Zimbabwe without the name Robert Mugabe in the same sentence was unthinkable a few years ago. In 2017, specifically on 18 November the world watched him as he was being forced to resign by the military. Although the Zimbabwean military continues to argue that Mugabe’s exit cannot be likened to a coup, this year saw the Zimbabwean hard man who has ruled by the iron fist for 37 years being dethroned. Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as the third president of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2017.