ONE of the key outcomes of the Cabinet retreat currently underway in Windhoek should be for members, whether new or experienced, to familiarize themselves with the Cabinet Handbook and thereby develop an appreciation for the ethos of collective decision making in the process of Effective Governance.
President Hage Geingob officiated at the official opening of the retreat and said much of the discussions at the conference will focus on Namibia’s path towards Economic Recovery and the various opportunities that could be seized to make this a reality.
“We should all be clear on one thing: In the absence of teamwork, in the absence of us holding hands and fostering a spirit of collaboration, we will not achieve a single objective. Therefore, a commitment to collective decision-making is a cornerstone for the efficient and effective administration of the State,” Dr. Geingob told attending members.
With reference to the COVID-19 pandemic and the results of the recent Regional Council and Local Authority elections, D. Geingob said that many valuable lessons could be learned with the benefit of hindsight.
“We are ready to seize the opportunity provided through this retreat, to better prepare for 2021 and beyond,” he said.
Dr. Geingob’s full address at the official start of the Cabinet retreat reads as follows.
I am pleased to welcome you all to the 2020 Cabinet Retreat.
As we gather here today on this significant occasion, to review progress and reaffirm our commitment towards transformation and results-based management, as well as to induct members of our Cabinet into their acquired platforms for selfless service and duty, I must say that I am filled with excitement and cautious expectation.
I mentioned in my statement during the final Cabinet meeting for 2020, on Tuesday, that our intentions were to host this retreat during March 2020, immediately after the swearing-in of the new Cabinet members.
Alas, none of us were prepared for the arrival of the unwelcome visitor, COVID-19.
Indeed, the onset of COVID-19 and its devastating effects on humanity has placed a great burden on us throughout this daunting year. Many plans have been derailed, and expectations ruined. We have sacrificed much and some of the gains achieved over the past 30 years, have been eroded. However, let us not despair, Rather, let us find inspiration in the words of one of the icons of the Black Power Movement, Malcolm X who said:
“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time”.
If there is one thing that the coronavirus has taught us, it is that with every defeat and loss, we have stood steadfast and learned valuable lessons on how we can improve our performance going forward. I have said it before and will repeat it again, that although we may have bent, we did not break. Therefore, our resolve remains to build a better Namibian House for all its inhabitants, defined by well-functioning processes, systems, and institutions, as well as world-class service delivery.
With the benefit of hindsight and many valuable lessons learned in 2020, we are ready to seize the opportunity provided through this retreat, to better prepare for 2021 and beyond.
It is vital that Members of Cabinet, whether new or experienced, familiarize themselves with the Cabinet Handbook and thereby develop an appreciation for the ethos of collective decision making in the process of Effective Governance. This should be one of the key outcomes of this retreat. Although much of our discussions today will focus on our path towards Economic Recovery and the various opportunities we can seize to make this a reality, we should all be clear on one thing: In the absence of teamwork, in the absence of us holding hands and fostering a spirit of collaboration, we will not achieve a single objective. Therefore, a commitment to collective decision-making is a cornerstone for the efficient and effective administration of the State.
The Cabinet, of which you are members, is a constitutional body, responsible for the final determination of policy. Furthermore, this Body is responsible for directing, coordinating, and supervising the activities of various Offices/Ministries/Agencies.
Article 35 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, stipulates the composition of the Cabinet while Article 40 explicitly states the duties and functions of Cabinet members.
My purpose for pointing this out is twofold:
First, it is to emphasize the need for all
Cabinet Members to fully grasp the constitutional responsibility that they have sworn to uphold. Second, it is to impress upon all Cabinet Members that we can no longer afford to have our road towards prosperity littered with the waste of bureaucratic inertia, tribalism, and divisions.
Hard work can no longer be a duty, it must become a culture and way of life.
Thus, in these pressing times, let us learn to do more with less and work hard with less, by learning to work smart. For as the Founding President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah once said, “Action without thought is empty. Thought without action is blind.”
We should work smart but not overthink and procrastinate, resulting in non-delivery of goods and services.
The burden has never been heavier, and expectations have never been greater than now. COVID-19 has made this reality of rising expectations more blunt. During the two elections we had in the space of 12 months, the Namibian people have spoken and they have asked us to do more with the mandate they have entrusted to us. We have heard them and we will therefore have to govern in a more responsive manner, so as to achieve the desired results. Although governance often requires the convergence of a myriad of interests, our ultimate objective should be the development of a united nation, characterized by shared prosperity.
We have all answered the call to serve in challenging and unprecedented times.
COVID-19, among other independent intervening variables, is the most formidable foe. However, at the same time, the current state of affairs offers us an opportunity to be ingenious and inventive in our approach to problem solving.
Our economy has plunged into the deepest recession since independence. As we craft a set of interventions with ambitions to induce a recovery, it is imperative to bear in mind that this can only be achieved through a holistic approach. An enduring recovery from this pandemic is predicated on the need to secure a stable and robust ecosystem, from which a dose of supportive fiscal and monetary interventions may be administered to reduce the economic scarring. It is only once these preliminary steps have been taken to stabilize our fiscal position, can we begin to meaningfully craft and implement a truly transformative portfolio of policy interventions.
The N$1.3 billion plus injection into our health sector accompanied by the N$8.1 billion stimulus package and the N$500 Million SME loan scheme, were the first of many requisite remedies. The Harambee Prosperity Plan 2021-2025 will look to supplement this initial prescription, with an innovative and timely bouquet of transformative interventions that would help us build a resilient and diversified portfolio of growth opportunities to realize the aspirations espoused in Vision 2030.
HPP high level desired outcomes, strategies and actions have been included in your Reading Packs and will be discussed on Day Two, for your input. I expect constructive debate with a view to reaching a consensus on the strategies and actions that will result in tangible improvements in the lives of our people.
At this juncture, let me remind this esteemed gathering of some of the key deliverables for my Second Term, which I directed Cabinet to finalize during the inaugural Cabinet Meeting of the 7th Government on March 24. These are:
1. Present and approve sustainability remodelling for the Namibia Students
Financial Assistance Fund;
2. Commence Phase 2 upgrading of Hosea Kutako International Airport;
3. Reach finality on the way forward with desalination for security in water supply;
4. Finalize implementation plan for the Khomas Region Informal Settlement Upgrading initiative;
5. Resolve social housing contracts under dispute from Mass Housing Programme and conclude and allocate completed units in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, and Windhoek;
6. Approve the Export Processing Zone Incentives Regime as a matter of priority.
7. Table the Namibia Investment Promotion Act and Regulations in the National Assembly before end of April 2020;
8. Give effect to public reform commitments made at the August 2019
Economic Growth Summit and secure project investment commitments from the Summit.
9. Table the Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution Commission report to Cabinet;
10. Resolve the pending decision on the Roads Contracting Company;
11. Conclude inquiry into the Fishing Quota allocation and pending 2018/19 applications;
12. Procure tractors and related implements under the NAMSIP programme before the next ploughing season; and
13. Table modalities of a Sovereign Wealth Fund to Cabinet for approval and implementation.
I expect to receive an update on the progress on each of these deliverables by the end of the first quarter of the next financial year. My
Advisors in attendance, please take note to follow up, working in concert with the Office of the Prime Minister, as the coordinating Office for Ministries.
Delivery and execution is the key, and particularly the speed with which we implement decisions. It is time that we increase our speed of implementation to the commensurate level of expectation from the population. Delays in decision-making undermine implementation and non-implementation results in non-service delivery. It is in this regard that we need to get rid of implementation inertia and bureaucratic red-tape. If there is no clarity, you as members of Cabinet are the first line of defense and you have an obligation to articulate and clarify Government policy at all times. We do not inform, we do not engage and we do not sufficiently explain our policies and positions to the public. Yet, we have many unbranded successes from our many good deeds. I can assure you that there is a price to pay if we don’t communicate robustly and if adversaries are permitted to repeat untruths without rebuttal on the side of Cabinet members. I consider that to be a dereliction of duty. Thus,
I particularly look forward to the session on Public Service Management by our Right Honourable Prime Minister – this will be the make or break of our well-meaning efforts.
As we embark on this journey, it is important to note that we are not alone.
Namibia continues to benefit from her soft power and reputation as a Child of International Solidarity. In our midst, we are joined by like-minded guests from all corners of the globe, who during the course of today and tomorrow will offer counsel, present case studies and guidance, as we embark on the challenging task of nation-building and Effective Governance, amidst unprecedented headwinds and a barrage of ever-evolving independent intervening variables. We must also develop foresight to prepare for the unforeseen, in a rapidly changing world.
It has been said that in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. Therefore, let us consider that perhaps this leadership team has been offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a multi-generational impact on our society. This is our moment in time, to leave an indelible mark and legacy, for those who have entrusted to us the hopes and aspirations of their children and children’s children. Failure is not an option.
We must continue our march forward and meet the enemy head-on. I am confident we are up to the task!
The task of building an inclusive and caring Namibian House, free from tribalism, regionalism, racism, and divisions is one we must pursue and defend, obstinately. Let us now hold hands and caucus, craft, and explore ways to deliver on the commitments we made, in order to meet our people’s greatest aspirations and our own, as Patriots.
With these words, it is now my honour to officially launch the 2020 Cabinet Retreat.