Staff Writer

It was an eventful day in Parliament when President Hage Geingob delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday.

The address unlike his previous addresses during his first administration did not go as smoothly, as opposition parties in Parliament interrupted him. At one stage, the President took his seat while the Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi brought the house to order.

In his address, the President said he was aware of the challenges currently faced by Namibians due to the negative impact of COVID-19.

“Fellow Namibians, I share in your anxieties. I understand your distress as breadwinners of our households. Many of you may lose or have already lost your income. I sympathize with you. I understand the pain of our small and large business owners and entrepreneurs, whose businesses have closed or face the risk of closure due to economic pressures. I share the concerns of our learners, students and youth, whose academic year has been upended by this crisis. I also understand the frustration of graduates who face fewer economic opportunities under the prevailing circumstances,” he said.

Geingob said at the end of his first term, the Harambee Prosperity Plan recorded an average 70 percent overall execution rate on set goals and outcomes.

“This has been calculated against the implementation outcomes of activities per pillar. Despite a number of independent intervening variables that adversely affected our ability to obtain the set target of an 80 percent execution rate, we achieved this relatively high rate by focusing on key deliverables with lesser financial implications,” he said.

The President said contrary to public perception that his government lacked the political will to fight corruption, “We have taken action and will, going forward, continue to take decisive action to tackle this scourge.”

“We will only prevail in the war against corruption, when transparency is nurtured within governance systems. Each and every Namibian has a role to play in uprooting corruption. I caution that we should protect the dignity of fellow citizens by guarding against accusations of corruption in the absence of evidence. In the fight against corruption, the due process of law must prevail.”

He said the fiscal consolidation strategy and expenditure prioritization introduced in 2015 had been affected by the emergence of the pandemic.

“Green shoots of recovery were becoming visible. Unfortunately these prospects have been severely compromised by the outbreak of COVID-19,” the President said.

He said delays in decision-making continue to undermine the country’s ability to conclude investment deals and secure development.

“I have on different occasions; urged Cabinet Ministers to provide timely responses to prospective investors. We cannot continue to keep people waiting indefinitely. Whether ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ we must provide responses. I am mindful that with increasing perceptions of corruption, Ministers and officials may be apprehensive to take decisions. However, the new Cabinet is enjoined to timeously provide responses,” Geingob said.

He said although housing remains a challenge, delivery of serviced land, housing and sanitation has progressed in line with targets set over the term.

“The HPP target to deliver 20,000 new houses was achieved at 82 percent, with delivery of 16,464 houses by March 2020. These houses were constructed in collaboration with various stakeholders including Namibia Housing Enterprise, GIPF, Shack Dwellers Federation, Build Together, and a number of Public Private Partnerships,” the President said.

“The delivery of residential erven was achieved at 89 percent or 23,194 plots of the targeted 26,000. The national housing backlog remains above 300,000 units. I am conscious that despite these achievements and considering the persistently high national demand, we need to accelerate our efforts in the area of housing and land provision, particularly in major cities and towns. While the bucket toilet system was not entirely eliminated by the end of the period envisaged, we achieved an elimination rate of 74 percent.”

He said his government has commenced work in preparation, on the precautionary measures and adjustments that will allow for the gradual re-opening of borders, for public travel.

“The imminent reopening of border points for public travel presents a key vulnerability. While life and business will have to return to some semblance of normality, this is a process we intend to manage carefully. We have commenced work in preparation, on the precautionary measures and adjustments that will allow for the gradual re-opening of borders, for public travel. For now we are open for the transportation of goods,” Geingob said.