President Hage Geingob is expected to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) today midst growing unemployment and a general melt-down of the economy and expectations are high that he will touch on burning issues and chart the way-forward.
Various Namibians that spoke to this publication expressed a growing impatience and indicated that the economy and working conditions should be at the core of this year’s SONA.
The country’s GDP weakened sharply last year for the first time in the last 25 years sending companies shutting down, with others retrenching and recent statistics show that an estimated 60 000 employed Namibians were thrown to the streets last year.
Government has responded to the shocks by cutting down on its expenditure, pumping money into the social sectors and going to China for possible investments and loans to aid the struggling economy.
Speaking to The Villager ahead of the SONA, an unemployed car guard identified only as David Koopar said youth employment should be the focus for the president this afternoon.
“He has to talk about taking people out out of poverty. He is the last man and he should be able to take people from poverty. He also has to talk about shifting some old people above 70 years out of parliament and put in younger people who know how to run things,” he said.
Another shopper who The Villager caught up with at Checkers Klein Windhoek identified as Kevin pointed at job creation as the basis of the SONA.
“The unemployment rate is scary. He should talk about how to create industry to employ people. Namibians have lost their buying power and this needs to be resolved,” he said.
Engen service station sales person, Johanna Shiwedha stressed that people were receiving meager salaries at the expense of profit making international corporates and this needed urgent attention.
She indicated that working conditions at service stations were not that conducive for ordinary people.
“We do not have benefits. We are made to stand 24 hours from 6am to 5pm and this happens even to pregnant women whether during the day or night shifts. We are not allowed to sit, I do not know why,” she lamented.
Also speaking to this publication, Smokey Paulus who works for Namibia Protection Services as a guard said the president has to send ministers to do a thorough check of companies to gauge how much they are making against what they are paying employees.
“They make money but we still do not know why we have to be paid low salaries. Maybe if we know how much exactly they are making we will be able to understand why our salaries are where they are,” he said.
In last year’s SONA, the president got backlash from opposition politicians who disagreed on his statement that the Namibian house was stable citing the unemployment crisis.
Although the president touched on corruption, there was a feeling that he should have touched on the independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission and how its funding equates to a proper job done.
Others felt that although he had managed to address a number of issues and mapped the way forward, his ministers were dragging him behind by not walking the talk.