NAMIBIANS must reaffirm their commitment to bring about change because it is the patriotic mandate of every individual to collectively overcome the most severe challenges faced by the nation.
President Hage Geingob, while delivering the keynote address during the celebration of Namibia’s 31st Independence Day, that was graced by the historical presence of the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation and the First President of the Republic of Namibia, Dr. Sam Nujoma, said that individual commitment to a common cause will strengthen the collective effort to lift the Namibian Nation from poverty and disenfranchisement.
“Let each and every one of us make a patriotic decision to participate in the transformation that is now before us. No challenge is insurmountable as long as we are willing to pull together in the spirit of Harambee,” he said.
Geingob said that Namibians now have the advantage and the ability to draw on the hindsight of 31 years to guide and encourage them.
“The horizon continues to loom large and our destination is clear. I am confident that the future is bright. On this Independence Day, we must reaffirm our commitment to the principle of nationhood by pulling in one direction,” he urged.
Geingob said that he remains committed to nation building, the war against poverty and corruption, and the empowerment of all Namibians.
The President stated that national interest should outweigh individual pursuits.
The full address delivered by President Geingob during the 31st Independence Day celebration reads as follows:
Today, as a nation, we mark 31 years of independence.
Today is a day of celebration; it is a day on which we relive a moment in history, which changed our country and our lives forever.
It is a day on which we honour the memory of those whose courage and patriotism delivered the promise of freedom. A day on which we memorialize the birth of a country of diverse people, forged as one nation under one flag, one anthem and one common destiny.
As we commemorate our 31st independence anniversary, we appreciate that this milestone occasion is symbolic of our coming of age. As our vibrant democracy matures and transitions into the fourth decade of independence, we stand on the cusp of a new era – a frontier of promise and possibility, firmly anchored in our history.
Together, over three decades, Namibians have forged love out of hate, peace out of conflict and common purpose out of self-interest.
We have managed to establish a country in which, as the Founding Father Cde Sam Nujoma said, “… all Namibians, regardless of colour, creed or place of origin, have a place…” This is what we celebrate today. A home for all races and people of different backgrounds. We celebrate the intrinsic values of nationhood and identity. For it is these values that will enable us to withstand the rough seas in order to continue our journey towards our destiny of shared prosperity and sustainable development.
It is not an understatement that over the past several years, we have faced untold challenges. Unstable global markets and the subsequent fall in commodity prices, coupled with an unprecedented period of drought have created a perfect storm for economic decline.
At present, we are in the midst of a war against Covid-19. Although the pandemic has tempered our celebrations, our spirits remain high because no unwelcome visitor can ever diminish the pride and love that we share for Namibia. The arrival of the Coronavirus on our shores on March 13, 2020, has compounded the already existing challenges and today as we celebrate 31 years of freedom, peace and stability, I am acutely aware that many Namibians have lost their jobs and a number of businesses have closed down. Covid-19, has caused upheaval around the globe and we have not been spared.
Yes, we are facing challenges, but there has not been any nation or people in this world that have not faced challenges on the path towards destiny. For as Former Emperor Haile Selassie once said,
“Many discouraging hours will arise before the rainbow of accomplished goals will appear on the horizon”. Therefore, let us not be dismayed due to a few discouraging hours. Rather, let us remain resilient and look towards the horizon as we pursue our rainbow of accomplished goals.
We are encouraged by the fact that the Namibia we live in today is a far cry from the Namibia of yesteryear. The Namibia we inherited at Independence and Namibia today, are miles apart. Without question, we have a better Namibia, a better country than the one, which existed under Apartheid rule. We have dismantled the infrastructure of Bantustans and collectively buttressed democratic institutions with the citizen as the ultimate sovereign, through regular and free elections. Our democracy, reinforced by Effective Governance, is the basis for peace, stability and the rule of law. By spending a significant percentage of our national budget on health, education, social welfare and infrastructure, we have managed to reduce poverty, which stood at 70% in 1990 to 18% today.
Since Independence, we continue to spend a large proportion of our resources on young people as an investment in a sustainable future for our country. In that vein, we have increased the number of Higher Education Institutions countrywide, taking education to the people by increasing access to higher education. As a result, the total enrolment at public higher education institutions increased by more than nine (9) times since independence, moving from 4,240 in 1992 to 40,442 in 2019.
Under the difficult conditions imposed by Covid-19, young people will continue to receive priority. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture received N$13.8 billion. Higher Education, Technology and Innovation is allocated N$3.1 billion, of which eight hundred and fifty one million N$ is for the University of Namibia (UNAM), and Four Hundred and Eighty Eight million Namibian Dollars for the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and N$1.2 billion for the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).
The Ministry of Gender Equality, which has many youth-related activities, received N$ 5.1 billion and the Ministry of Youth received N$ 278 Million. These figures bring the amount we spend annually on uplifting the youth to about N$ 29 Billion, which is more than half of the annual budget. SME financing for youth with entrepreneurial skills is at 495 Million. Moreover, we have mainstreamed activities to empower young people across all the Offices, Ministries and Agencies of the Government.
We have managed to achieve these successes due to the efforts of
Namibians with diverse strengths and skillsets, who continue to pull together in one direction in order to propel Namibia to higher heights.
As we contemplate the future, let us appreciate how far we have come and take courage in the fact that from a poorly governed occupied territory, defined by racial hatred and division, we have managed to build an admirable home through unity, hard work and patriotism. Let us never forget that it has taken a united and collective effort to build this nation. Not one tribe, not one race, not one gender, not one religion has achieved this but all of us, together.
We have built a great nation; we have defined what it truly means to be a Namibian. We should therefore all take ownership of the future of this country by understanding that to get to our destination of a well-developed nation, each of us must play a role. All of us must commit to the vision of building a Namibian House that future generations will be proud of.
Let us therefore renew our patriotism, our sense of solidarity and our love for our country. For these concepts are the mortar that bind us as a people and as a nation. We should all endeavour to do what is best for our nation as a whole and support our quest to achieve a prosperous country.
On this Independence Day, we must reaffirm our commitment to the principle of nationhood by pulling in one direction, from the north, to south, east to west and every corner of our beautiful country. Let each and every one of us make a patriotic decision to participate in the transformation that is now before us. No challenge is insurmountable as long as we are willing to pull together in the spirit of Harambee. We have the hindsight of the past 31 years to guide us and to encourage us. The horizon continues to loom large and our destination is clear. I am confident that the future is bright.
That is why as President I remain committed to continuing the Namibian narrative of nation building. I remain committed to the war against poverty and corruption. I remain committed to empowering our people and focusing our efforts on national interest rather than on individual pursuits.
In order to make our vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Namibian House a reality; we must translate this vision into actionable plans and policies. Most importantly, we must execute so that we can deliver on the dreams of our people.
Therefore, the launch of the Harambee Prosperity Plan in 2016 and the subsequent launch of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II three days ago, speaks to our resolute desire to deliver on the promise of a prosperous Namibia. These plans do not replace, but complement and accelerate the implementation of the long-term goal of the National Development Plans [NDPs] and Vision 2030.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan II is premised on Effective Governance as an enabler of socio-economic development. Through the HPPII roadmap and building on the successes of the past, I am confident that Namibia will strengthen its Effective Governance Architecture through responsive processes and systems, and accountable institutions that deliver quality public services.
I quote one of Africa’s great statesmen, the late President of Tanzania, His Excellency Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who said, “Our responsibilities towards our own people will, in all conscience, be difficult to discharge. The struggle to raise the standards of our people and to lift up our economy will be severe; but however severe it may be it will be waged with all confidence and resolve that inspire this nation.”
Indeed, as a Government we have responsibilities to fulfil towards the Namibian people. Indeed, we are aware that the Second Struggle for the Economic Liberation of all Namibians, that of growing the economy and improving the livelihoods of our people, will be severe.
However severe it may be, the Struggle for Economic Liberation will be waged with all the confidence, the resolve and the resources that inspire our great nation. It is a commitment we made at independence 31 years ago. I can assure you, if we stand in unity and solidarity, and pull together in the same direction, we shall fulfil the dream of an inclusive and prosperous Namibian House.
With these words, I wish all Namibians a Happy 31st Independence Day.
May God bless the Republic of Namibia.
LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA