THE emergence of COVID-19 has placed Namibia’s efforts at economic recovery in serious jeopardy and in the face of the global threat to the way of life and future prosperity of all Namibians, the nation must embrace the spirit of unity.
This was the message of President Hage Geingob during his well attended swearing in ceremony today at State House as Head of State for a second term.
“It is a pernicious enemy that threatens all of us. In order to fight this invisible enemy, we must rise as one. We must emulate the brave deeds of thousands of Namibian men and women, who from all corners of our country, rose as one people to defeat the brutal Apartheid Regime. Although the enemies we face today may be different, the resolve of the Namibian people remains as strong as ever,” the President said to a crowd of about 500 people.
Referring to Namibia’s struggle for freedom Geingob said Namibians should continue their march towards a common destiny in the spirit of unity and galvanised by hope and perseverance.
“Let us not forget that from a people who were divided, we have transformed this nation into a gem of democratic stability and social harmony. Let us therefore continue in the spirit of our narrative of pulling together in the same direction, in order to build our Namibian House,” Geingob said.
Geingob added that as the Head of State, he will never depart from the narrative of nation building.
“I am cognisant that national pride and unity are the two cardinal pillars that bind the people of our country. Over the next five years we will reinforce these pillars to instil the values of national pride and patriotism,” he said, adding “As I assume my second and last term of office, I call on the nation to perpetuate the narrative of One Namibia, One Nation. Let us own this narrative for it defines our identity and speaks to the spirit of our struggle for independence.”
President Geingob said when he took an oath five years ago, he was conscious of the invaluable sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for our independence.
“Today, I took this solemn oath, cognisant of the urgent need to improve the livelihoods of our people. In so doing, I recommit with all determination, to lead and to serve the people of Namibia, to achieve the goal of a more inclusive, united and prosperous Namibian House,” he said.
The swearing in ceremony was attended by delegates from other Southern African states, including Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Today our sister Republic, South Africa, is also commemorating the Sharpeville Massacre, which marked a painful moment in the history of our struggle against Apartheid. When we were drafting our Constitution, we had to choose a date on which to commemorate our independence. We consciously selected 21 March, the day of the Sharpeville Massacre, symbolising the unity of our struggle, and that of the People of South Africa,” said Geingob, while thanking countries like Cuba, Angola, Nigeria and socialist Scandinavian countries that helped Namibia achieve independence.
“I pay tribute to the former late Secretary
General of the United Nations, His Excellency Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, for his honesty, foresight and perseverance, as Secretary General of the United Nations, during the challenging period leading up to our first democratic elections.
May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he said.
The head of state further added that the global outbreak of COVID-19 is presenting humanity with one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century.
“In the face of this pandemic, we are even more appreciative of our regional and international friends represented here. You continue to be valuable partners in our common pursuit of development objectives. We are confident that humanity will prevail against this monumental challenge,” he said.
He said that over a period of 22 years, poverty was reduced from a baseline of 70% down to 18%; that 95% of school age children attend school and the number of teachers has increased by 30%; that the health system in Namibia has transformed from fragmented, racially segregated infrastructure into a more inclusive national service catering for the health and welfare of all Namibians and that the bitumen road network has increased by 45% since independence.
“We have to continue our journey of social cohesion, through the policy of National Reconciliation. We have to continue our journey of ‘Representative Government’ buttressed by sound governance architecture, which upholds the principles of accountability and transparency.
We have to continue to build on our gains in the fight for social progression, to uplift more Namibians out of poverty and inequality,” the president said.
Despite government’s achievements, said Geingob, it remains acutely aware of the social deficits that persist and continues to deny the people their right to dignity.
“We have faced uncommon hardships over the past five years. Our experiences have made the enormity of the task before us more vivid: Segments of our population continue to live in deplorable conditions without access to basic amenities,” said Geingob.
He continued by saying that there are still Namibians who are at risk of hunger, poverty and succumbing to treatable diseases, as well as a worrying number of young people who cannot access employment opportunities.
He also noted that corruption is eroding public trust and diverting scarce resources intended for development and that income disparities and inequalities still persist and addressing this, remains the most crucial, and urgent challenge.
“Any society that is structurally unequal can never last. Although the odds appear to be stacked against us, we will summon the courage and ingenuity to continue the work we have commenced, with a sense of unity and common purpose,” he said.
He concluded by saying that the people of Namibia have a responsibility to contribute towards the construct of a united, inclusive and prosperous House.