By Elvis Muraranganda
A frank President Hage Geingob has taken the nation into his confidence during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in parliament on Wednesday, outlining the country’s challenges, while also emphasising his administration’s strong stance against corruption.
He told the nation that he was speaking as a father and a family man, while imploring all citizens to embrace the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), which will lead them to prosperity.
He used this year’s SONA to primarily highlight the achievements of HPP, which he had unveiled during last year’s speech.
Geingob announced that his administration had fared well in the fight against corruption, which he highlighted as the first pillar of the HPP, dealing with accountability and transparency.
He said the government’s anti-graft measures had included the cancellation of the Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrading tender, which was allegedly tainted with irregularities and would have costs taxpayers about N$7 billion.
“My wife and I have publicly and voluntarily declared our assets and income and lodged same declarations with the Anti-Corruption Commission,” Geingob added.
“We (government) publicly released the remuneration of all public office bearers… We lodged an investigation into the National Oil Storage Facility and did not interfere in the action against the SME Bank.
In terms of investigations into tax evasion and money laundering, the President said the finance ministry initiated an investigation into his “friend”, without naming Chinese national Jack Huang.
“If the President was not serious about fighting corruption, why did he not intervene to protect his ‘friend’ from arrest? We believe that the law must be uncompromisingly upheld, to take its course.”
He also mentioned a raft of cases that were being investigated or that were already before the courts.
“When we ask people to report cases of corruption, the classic cases such as the Avid Social Security case, the Offshore Development Company and Development Capital Portfolio of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) are mentioned. Recently, the KORA Music Awards case has been added.
“All these cases have been investigated or are in the hands of the courts. Corruption and complicity to corruption would be when government closes its eyes or looks the other way.
“However, we have taken bold actions, as demonstrated. This means the proverbial ‘bull’ that is corruption is being taken by the ‘horns’,” Geingob said.
“Another concrete action taken to strengthen our governance architecture is the promulgation of the new Public Procurement Act, effective from the 1st of April 2017. The regulations and guidelines to the Act have been finalised, and the members of the Central Procurement Board and Review Panel, appointed.
“The Act extends to all public entities and will promote greater accountability and transparency. It was further enhanced by the Supreme Court ruling in the airport upgrade, case that all public procurement, including that of State-owned enterprises, require the approval of the treasury. We believe this to be a game-changer in ensuring fair, transparent and accountable usage of public funds in procurement processes. The Act is also transformational as it promotes inclusivity and economic development through local content sourcing,” the Head of State added.
“To improve accountability, we have introduced a performance management system at the highest level in government. In the interest of transparency, ministerial performance contracts are available on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister. Apart from quarterly performance reports by offices, ministries and agencies, we have also introduced one-on-one performance discussions between myself and individual cabinet ministers.
Geingob said that during the past year, the country has faced a devastating drought and adverse global economic headwinds, which reduced the levels of public trust.
“We understand your anxieties. We have, however, not succumbed, but stayed on course.
“Today, our fiscal situation has stabilised, and although there are uncertainties, the future is promising.”
He informed the joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council that the country continues to make inroads against the scourge of poverty.
These results, Geingob noted, are reflected in the improved social indicators.
“We continue to wage war against corruption. We continue to channel the bulk of our resources into the social sectors of education, health and housing.”
According to the Head of State, progress reviews confirm that the HPP is working.
He stressed that his administration will continue with the implementation of the plan, and in addition, will launch the Fifth National Development Plan soon.
Geingob indicated that the first year of implementation of any new programme, including the HPP, always has teething problems.
Regarding the economy, he said the government had expected it to grow four percent at the beginning of last year.
“We realised during the mid-term budget review that this projection was unattainable. Consequently, we had to make deep cuts to the budget, to ensure fiscal sustainability and put the economy on a sustainable long-term growth trajectory.
“Today, the fiscal position has stabilised. We expect modest growth for 2017, while the longer-term growth outlook has improved considerably.”
Towards the end of his speech Geingob opened up about his love for Namibia.
“My love for this country is what drove me into exile. It is what keeps me awake at night, agonising about challenges. And it is what drives me during the day finding solutions to these challenges. I represent the sum total of our collective hopes and fears.
I see the threats and I savour the opportunities. Let me assure you, as a fellow Namibian, that our collective potential by far exceeds our problems.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015