The ruling and privileged elite has declared 2023 (president Hage Geingob’s Year of Revival) a success.
After all, the economy is on course to grow by about 3,5%, they point out. The president this week said “the future is bright. It was terrible about seven years ago, but now I am going to leave the country in very good shape”.
In stark contrast to the rosy economic forecast, spare a thought for Zelda Bronzel (31) of Kanaan informal settlement at Gobabis.
Bronzel and her three-year-old baby were among nearly 700 000 Namibians declared to suffer chronic food insecurity.
In fact, 45 children had died of malnutrition within six months in the Omaheke region, the cattle-rich area of which Gobabis is the capital.
Bronzel feels helpless in keeping her boy from being afflicted by malnutrition.
“I am unemployed. I sometimes wash people’s clothes and get myself and my baby something to eat. When he starts crying, I don’t even know what to give him, because I am also hungry,” she says.
Such is the lot of the majority of Namibians: About one million live in informal settlements with poor sanitation, weather-beaten shacks and low income.
Namibia remains the country with the second-highest income inequality, with the majority of people living from hand to mouth.
It is difficult to dismiss the pronouncements of the ruling class and the rich, with the expectation of so-called trickle-down economics providing some glimmer of hope that the buzz of green hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels will rescue Namibia.
Sadly, life offers no silver bullets where planning and foresight are needed – especially for challenges like the Namibian economy, which has been moribund for the past eight years.
As if the country did not have enough problems to deal with, lawmakers put everything aside to pass in record time laws that would change the Constitution simply to quash same-sex relationships.
At one point, 2023 seemed destined to become the Year of Hate exhibited through the targetting of a minority community by former minister Jerry Ekandjo, who pushed through anti-gay bills.
The ineptitude of the ruling elite was exposed as the year draws to a close, with a dismissive attitude by the Presidency that the country’s first family used the environmental summit, COP28, to have a holiday in Dubai.
As if the governmental largesse of travel allowances were not enough proof of misuse of tax money, the Presidency argued there was nothing wrong with listing as official delegates the president and first lady’s children to the summit, while arguing they were there in their private capacity and to have fun.
By some accounts, more than N$40 million was spent on government officials’ Dubai jaunt.
There were some positive steps, such as the judiciary opening up on how judges are recruited.
Hopefully Namibia’s improved sport performance on international platforms (the Rugby World Cup, netball continental triumphs, Cricket World Cup qualification, and qualifying for African football championships) are an indication of better things in the coming year.
If 2023 was meant to be the Year of Revival, 2024 better be the Year of Reset.
Namibians must use their votes in the elections next year to send an unequivocally clear message to the ruling elite (including the opposition) what improvements are required to improve the lot of the majority.
Happy Festive Season, Wishes
for a Prosperous 2024
THE NAMIBIAN’S STAFF and board of directors wish the citizens of its namesake, as well as global citizens a great time during the festive period.
May we return to 2024 rejuvenated to be more productive and more considerate if we are to have the majority of fellow Namibians benefit from the prosperity the few enjoy.
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