SONA 2018 speech






11 APRIL 2018

Honourable Professor Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly and Mrs Katjavivi;

Honourable Mensah-Williams, Chairperson of the National Council and Mr. Williams;

Right Honourable Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in

Parliament; Honourable Venaani, Leader of the Official Opposition;

Honourable Shaningwa, Secretary General of the Governing Party and Member of Parliament;

Honourable Members of Parliament; Special Guests:

• Comrade Mbumba, Vice President of the

Republic of Namibia;

• Comrade Iyambo, Former Vice President of the

Republic of Namibia and Madame Iyambo;

• Madame Geingos, First Lady of the Republic of



• Comrade Gurirab, Former Speaker of the

National Assembly;

• Your Lordship, Chief Justice Shivute;

• Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic


• Distinguished Invited Guests;

• Members of the Media;

• Fellow Namibians

Today, I am in front of you to deliver my penultimate State of the Nation Address, as the

third President of the Republic of Namibia. It also marks the mid-term point since the launch of the

Harambee Prosperity Plan on 06 April 2016. As enjoined by the Constitution in Article 32(2), the

State of the Nation Address accords opportunity to the Head of State to account to the nation on how

far we have come as a people. This Address will account on the implementation status of national

developmental programmes for the period under review, and inform priorities for the year ahead

against the thematic pillars of:

§? Effective Governance and Service Delivery

§? Economic advancement

§? Social progression

§? Infrastructure Development

§? International Relations and Cooperation

In my inaugural SONA delivered on 21 April 2015, I

envisioned a strong, united, inclusive and

prosperous Namibian House, a place of peace and

refuge for all its residents. This narrative is now

widely embraced and expressions such as “No

Namibian should feel left out”, “pull together in the

same direction”, “the spirit of Harambee” and “One

Namibia, One Nation”, have all become part of the

daily discourse and shared notion of nationhood.

Namibians are an audacious people. We have set

ourselves ambitious targets and desire to reach our

goals faster. The restlessness we observe among


Namibian citizens is spurred by the fact that we

can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This

gives us hope and this hope should inspire hard

work. We remain confident in our ability to

eradicate poverty, and reduce inequalities by 2025.

Our national aspiration, articulated in Vision 2030

aims to produce world-class citizens, products and

services and offer citizens a prosperous livelihood.

The National Development Plans remain a guiding

compass towards the attainment of Vision 2030. In

2017 we launched the fifth National Development

Plan for the period 2017 to 2022. The Harambee

Prosperity Plan is our short-term impact plan,

aiming to accelerate implementation of long-term

development plans. All these national plans have

one common objective: To deliver Prosperity for all

Namibians. As a nation, we have successfully

created the space for all Namibians to commit to a


common future, with shared obligations and

benefits. No one should feel left out of the

Namibian House. It belongs to all of us.

In this house we may disagree, as we should.

Differences of opinion are necessary for the vitality

of our democracy. “Wars begin where diplomacy

fails”. We should continue to engage in open and

respectful debates focused on solutions as opposed

to the social construction of new problems.

That is why during SWAPO’s internal contestation,

I encouraged contenders to “play the ball and not

the person.” This is because, if you kick the person,

injuries and wounds can be inflicted that are

difficult to heal. However, if all play the ball, after

the game is over, the ball can be kicked away,

players can hug and focus on the next game. We

should therefore remain issue focused, factual and

evidence based as we debate.


Honourable Speaker

Honourable Chairperson

Effective governance is the condition sine qua non

for socio-economic development. It is for this

reason I declared an all-out war against poverty,

inequalities and corruption upon assuming Office.

As a matter of fact, corruption is enemy Number 1

in our war against poverty. It diverts scarce

resources intended for development. To fight

corruption requires a robust Governance

Architecture, underpinned by the principles of

Accountability and Transparency. It should come as

no surprise that this year 2018 is “The Year of


We are committed to buttress our governance

fundamentals by benchmarking against

international governance indices. In this regard


Transparency International rated Namibia in the

top tier, at position 53 out of 176 countries

surveyed, and the 5th least corrupt country on the

continent in 2017. Similarly, a New Africa is on the

march, and has declared war against corruption,

exemplified by the adoption of the African Union

theme for the year 2018, “Winning the fight

against corruption”.

Namibia continues to score well on the Mo-Ibrahim

Governance Index. Namibia is 1 of 18 countries in

Africa to have achieved consistent improvements in

governance over the last decade. The pace of

reform in Namibia has accelerated during the last

five years, demonstrating our commitment to

continuous improvement.

Promoting a free and responsible press, rated as

the freest in Africa and among the freest in the

world, attests to the commitment of our


Government to an open society. According to

Reporters Without Borders, Namibia remains the

country with the freest press in Africa and occupies

a respectable 24th position globally. Moreover,

Namibia obtained the maximum score of zero on

the “abuse” sub-index, meaning no journalist has

been harassed or arrested, during the reporting

period of 2017.

There is however a worrying and persisting

perception, mostly propagated by media, that

government is not doing enough to curb

corruption, despite numerous cases where decisive

action has been taken to demonstrate political will.

In 2017, 60 cases have been investigated and

handed over to the Prosecutor General by the Anti-

Corruption Commission, with recommendation to

prosecute. Where there are flaws in institutional

processes and systems, we have adopted

additional mechanisms to identify loopholes and


facilitate the reporting of irregularities. The media

has an obligation to highlight what we are doing

right and wrong on all fronts. It is in the interest of

those who elected us to know what government is


In line with our commitment to reckon, I further

demonstrated resolve to address perceived and

alleged corruption by requesting Ministers to

respond to accusations leveled against them, upon

commencement of the 2018 Executive year. This

should not be understood to mean the concerned

Ministers are guilty of corrupt activity. The purpose

of my intervention was to provide a platform to

respond. Despite our public declaration of assets,

my wife and I remain on the receiving end of

similar allegations and scrutiny. I continue to

respond to queries from the media and expect

Ministers to do the same. I am glad Cabinet

Ministers have all responded and come to


appreciate this platform to respond to allegations

leveled against them.

If we are to win the war against corruption we

have a shared obligation to blow the whistle. In

this regard members of the public are requested to

report cases of corruption. The Whistle Blowers

Protection and Witness Protection Acts were

passed in September 2017 to strengthen our legal

instruments. The implementation mechanism for

this legislation is not yet operational. However, this

should not deter the public from submitting reports

of corruption to relevant authorities. Contrary to

the widespread perception of corrupt officials,

substantiated reports have not been forthcoming.

There were accusations that public procurement

was shrouded in secrecy and that rules of

engagement were unfair. Therefore an additional

measure to arrest corruption was the enactment of


the new Public Procurement Act of 2016, which

became fully operational in 2017. All nine

members of the Central Procurement Board,

including the full time positions of Chairperson,

Deputy Chair and fifteen members of the Review

Panel have been filled. This marks a positive

development towards increased transparency. We

recognize that there are teething problems to be

improved upon with urgency.

The new Board has already adjudicated tenders in

line with agreed upon thresholds. Eleven (11)

cases of irregularities relating to the awarding of

tenders were reported and are being investigated

by the review panel and one (1) case is already in

the Courts.

State Owned Enterprises represent a significant

procurement share of public goods and services. I

am glad to report that they have aligned their


procurement policies to the objects of the new Act.

Public procurement has the potential to catalyze

growth in Small and Medium sized Enterprises.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate, while

remaining mindful to diversify their business

models. To broaden participation and transparency,

a website is operational, providing standards and

opportunities in public tendering.

Fellow Namibians

Efficient service delivery remains a challenge in

Namibia, not only in the public sector but also in

the private sector. Excellent service delivery

remains the exception rather than the norm. We

introduced the Citizen Satisfaction Survey as a

baseline assessment to establish standards of

public service delivery. In addition, twenty-two

(22) of twenty-seven (27) Offices, Ministries and

Agencies have revised their Customer Service


Charters, while twenty-five (25) have installed a

feedback mechanism through Suggestion Boxes

that are analyzed on a monthly basis to inform

remedial plans. We also consult regularly with the

private sector and stakeholders on measures to

improve service delivery.

The quality of public service delivery will gradually

improve with the introduction and fine-tuning of

the performance management system. Goals and

targets are becoming smarter and outcome

oriented, while ministers have fully embraced

performance management.

There has been a positive shift in the working

culture of government, with a growing urgency

most evident at the highest-level of leadership.

Ministers are punctual for Cabinet meetings and

time is well managed, setting the pace towards

improved performance and service delivery. These


practices should be extended and emulated across

the government system.

As a government of the people and by the people,

we remain committed and strive to bring

government closer to the people, by leveraging

Information Communication Technologies. Certain

e-governance services are available online while

are at an advanced stage of implementation:

§? The e-Justice electronic platform streamlines

the litigation process, thereby enhancing

access to justice

§? The e-Birth notification system, is a web-based

birth registration platform aimed at enhancing

timely provision of quality data at national,

regional and district levels

§? The e-Labour Information Management

System enables employees and employers to

file labour disputes online


§? The e-application for environmental clearance


§? The online company name reservation tool at


These digital platforms will improve efficiencies in

public service delivery. Government now calls upon

the private sector to scale up service delivery

through the implementation of Service Charters

and to conduct Customer Satisfaction Surveys

biennially, as envisaged under the Harambee

Prosperity Plan.

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Chairperson

Turning to economic transformation, a key

objective in our fight for freedom. Namibia faces

the triple challenge of income disparities, high

unemployment and the existence of pockets of


poverty. Efforts to redistribute wealth meaningfully

have been undertaken to yield transformation that

can correct historical injustices. Since

independence, Government has introduced a range

of redistributive laws and policies, through a

combination of social service provision, social

safety nets and taxation. Similarly, a number of

empowerment initiatives including employment

equity, land resettlement, affirmative action loans

for the purchase of commercial land, granting of

fishing quotas and mineral licenses, the creation of

community conservancies, provision of social

housing and significant investment into education

and training, are all aimed to improve the quality of

life of our citizens.

These notwithstanding, income inequality persists,

aggravated by our unique political history. We are

proud that we are able to cater for vulnerable

citizens through the provision of social safety nets.


However we cannot build a prosperous nation

through social welfare alone. It should be one of

many robust interventions. We should address

underlying structural impediments that make it

difficult, if not impossible for many Namibians to

meaningfully participate in the economy.

The National Equitable Economic Empowerment

Policy Framework (NEEEF) is under conversion into

a legislative framework (NEEEB). It is a necessary

instrument for corrective action.

In line with the philosophy of inclusive governance,

nationwide consultations were undertaken and we

have heard your concerns and considered your

proposals. During consultations, a number of key

policy and legal issues were highlighted. These

include four problematic areas I highlighted at the

Cabinet Workshop on NEEEF in February this year.

These are:


§? Definitional issues relating to Previously

Disadvantaged Persons and the targeted

Private Sector Enterprises

§? The mandatory nature of the ownership equity

and management control pillars

§? The role of sectoral charters vis-a-vis the

empowerment Framework

§? The need for Monitoring and Evaluation tools

and funding mechanisms to ensure


Outcomes from the NEEEF consultations were

presented to Cabinet in February 2018, for

deliberation. The Office of the Prime Minister will

provide feedback to stakeholders, on the Cabinet

decision in May 2018. The Bill will be tabled in

Parliament before the end of 2018.

Let me use this opportunity to put the equity pillar

of NEEEF into perspective. The 25 percent equity


stake will not translate into broad-based

empowerment and is done away with. Professor

Roman Grynberg recently made a valid point - most

Namibians, especially the previously disadvantaged

do not have enough resources to invest in

empowerment transactions, nor are they able to

obtain access to funding to participate in such

transactions. Some sectors such as mining are

particularly capital intensive and come with huge

risk during the exploration phase.

The Marxian principle of “each according to his/her

needs and each according to his/her ability” guides

us. The role of Government is to create a conducive

business environment where owners, whether

black or white, who can afford risk capital, can

participate in equity transactions under NEEEF.

Those who want to participate in public

procurement will have to do more to be NEEEF



We must strive towards inclusive broad-based

empowerment focusing on the plight of farm

workers, domestic workers, women, the youth and

all disenfranchised Namibians. Employee share

schemes are one of the most effective forms of

broad-based empowerment. I encourage such an

approach. I also support the call by workers unions

to introduce a national minimum wage, which is

also a Harambee Prosperity Plan proposal. Gender

parity, the provision of decent housing through

housing schemes and introduction of pension

schemes will go a long way to empower citizens to

retire in dignity. In this connection, we remain

committed to the introduction of a National

Pension Fund to cater for those employed

Namibians that are currently excluded from

retirement fund arrangements.


Fellow Namibians

The land question remains a vexing, complex and

emotive matter. The “willing buyer, willing seller

principle” adopted after independence by

Government has not produced the required results.

In my first State of the Nation Address I directed

that a second National Land Conference be held.

Due to the need for wider consultation, the

conference was postponed and is now set to take

place in the first week of October 2018. The

Conference seeks to address the structure of land

ownership and debate the following:

§? The willing-seller, willing-buyer principle

§? Ancestral land claims for restitution

§? Expropriation in public interest with just

compensation, as provided for in our


§? Urban land reform and Resettlement Criteria

§? The Veterinary Cordon Fence


A High Level Committee chaired by the Prime

Minister has been constituted and will be served by

Technical Committees under the Chairmanship of

the line Minister, comprising of Ministerial and civil

society subject matter experts.

Economic advancement and mobility of citizens is

high on the agenda of government. The Growth at

Home strategy provides a roadmap to achieve our

ambition of an industrialized country by 2030. The

following interventions have commenced to give

credence to our ambitions:

§? The launch of the ten (10) sector growth

strategies in 2017 resulted in the

establishment of the Charcoal Association to

stimulate development at a sub-sector level.

§? The revived Equipment Aid Scheme continues

to yield transformational impact on the


operations of beneficiaries. Since reintroduction

of this scheme in 2016, onehundred-

and-eighty-seven (187) eligible SMEs

have benefitted, to date.

§? Implementation of the Namibia Retail Sector

Charter has gained momentum with greatest

impact recorded in the cosmetics and

horticulture industries.

Other transformational activities completed or

nearing completion include:

§? Establishment of a vehicle assembly plant, as

a joint venture between the Namibia

Development Corporation and Peugeot. The

first vehicles are expected to roll off the

assembly belt by November 2018. In

preparation, a number of vocationally trained

graduates will undergo immersion at Peugeot

in France, during the second half of this year.

Albeit small at the beginning, this operation


will significantly enhance Namibia’s

industrial capacity, contributing towards

skills transfer and employment creation.

§? Construction of the Keetmanshoop furniture

manufacturing plant has been completed and

the factory fully equipped. A lease agreement

was signed with the project promoter and

production of furniture is expected to

commence towards the second half of 2018.

§? Construction of the Keetmanshoop garment

manufacturing plant has been completed,

fully equipped and ready for commissioning

upon the appointment of an operator.

§? Servicing of twenty-four (24) hectares of

industrial land at Brakwater to be completed

during the current financial year.

§? Servicing thirty-four (34) hectares of

industrial land at Walvis Bay (Ha!Nara Namib

Industrial Park) will be completed during the

current financial year. Eventually, this site


will reach four hundred (400) hectares and

will be turned into an industrial park for local

and international companies.

§? Four hectares of land have been availed for

the construction of a beef cold storage

facility within the Ha!Nara Namib Industrial

Park. The establishment of this facility is a

vital cog in our quest to develop our meat

export capacity, as it will enable Namibia to

export beef via Walvis Bay instead of through

neighbouring ports.

§? The Marine Resources Scorecard on the

allocation of fishing quotas, aims to enhance

transparency in the allocation of quotas to

Right Holders. The aim of this scorecard is

not to disadvantage major players that

contribute positively to national

development. Rather, the scorecard will be

instrumental in ensuring equitable

distribution of our fishery resources.


Honourable Speaker

Honourable Chairperson

The adverse economic conditions experienced in

2016 continued into 2017, making it another

difficult year. The steep fiscal consolidation that

was necessary to put the economy on a sustainable

growth path, negatively affected the construction

and retail sectors. Due to Government’s decision to

settle outstanding invoices, the two rating

agencies, Moody and Fitch downgraded Namibian

debt instruments to sub-investment standard. Not

settling outstanding invoices would have caused

more harm to the economy, in particular to our

small and medium sized enterprises. Domestic debt

and debt issued in the South African market

however, remain rated at investment grade.


While our debt ratio increased to 43 percent, our

debt remains within sustainable levels as a ratio to

GDP and well within the SADC benchmark of 60

percent. Although economic activities remain

subdued, the underlying fundamentals have

improved, compared to the previous year:

§? The external position as measured by

international reserves has improved to 4.6

months of import coverage, up from 3.2

months in 2016. This represents a better

coverage ratio than the international minimum

benchmark and Harambee Prosperity Plan

target of three (3) months.

§? The inflation rate declined to 6.2 percent in

2017 from 6.7 percent in 2016. The lower

inflation in 2017 was mainly due to lower food

prices, which significantly relieved the burden

on the poor.


§? The fiscal deficit narrowed to 5 percent in

2017/18 compared to 7 percent in 2016/17.

We estimate the deficit will further decline to 4

percent in 2018/19.

§? The economic growth outlook is starting to

improve on the back of rebounding commodity

prices and improving global economic

conditions. Economic activities in Angola and

South Africa have also started to show

moderate improvement. This augurs well for

cross border trade at our northern border post,

and to the south an improved outlook for SACU


§? The Government of the Republic of Angola has

honoured payment obligations, incurred as a

result of the currency conversion agreement of

2015. Angola has made four (4) quarterly

payments, totaling approximately 3 billion

Namibian Dollars in 2017. The total


outstanding payment of 1.2 billion Namibian

Dollars will be fully settled by June 2018. We

thank the Government and the people of

Angola, for honouring their commitment.

One key lesson learnt from the recent economic

downturn is that our growth path was overly

dependent on consumption and government

spending. We have resolved to rebalance our model

from consumption driven to investment led growth.

In particular I would like to see an increased

savings culture that will enable investment into

productive assets of our economy.

To facilitate private investment, Government

adopted the 2017 Public Private Partnership Law

and Framework, which sets out clear rules of

engagement for joint ventures. Other initiatives

include unbundling the energy sector through the

provision of off-take agreements to independent


power producers, especially in renewable energy.

In this regard, it is encouraging to note that in

2017 the Development Bank of Namibia invested

720 million Namibian Dollars in independent power

producer projects.

Fellow Namibians

Quality growth is required to create and sustain

employment for our growing young population. As

we rebalance our growth model, increased

attention will be given to sectors with high job

creation potential for young people.

One such sector is agriculture. I am pleased to

announce that we have secured funding to

implement the extensive Agricultural

Mechanization and Seed Improvement Programme.

This programme will be rolled out over a five-year

period, from the second quarter of 2018.


Successful implementation is envisaged to halve

the percentage of food insecure people in Namibia,

from an estimated 25 percent in 2017, to 12

percent by 2025 and further lead to a reduction in

annual grain and cereal imports from 60 percent of

total consumption in 2017, to 20 percent by 2025.

This initiative is expected to translate into

thousands of job opportunities for rural youth.

In addition, a number of transformational

initiatives that will positively impact the

agricultural sector have been introduced. These

include a collateral-free loan to enable communal

farmers to access financing against payroll

deductions. To date, two-hundred-and-two (202)

loans with a value of 25.3 million Namibian Dollars

have been approved within eight (8) months of



Government has sustained investment in health,

education and skills development to cater for

young people. This notwithstanding youth

unemployment remains high. We are acutely aware

of the plight of the out-of-school youth, students,

job-seeking graduates and entrepreneurial startups.

To facilitate job creation for young people the

promotion of relevant skills through quality

vocational education and training remains priority.

It is pleasing to report that vocational enrollment

increased from twenty-eight-thousand-fivehundred-

and-seventy-one (28,571) in 2017, to


trainees (32,120) by the end of March 2018. This is

well ahead of the Harambee Prosperity Plan target

of 18 thousand enrollments per annum. A further

46 thousand students were enrolled in tertiary

institutions in 2017. The implementation of the


Comprehensive Vocational Education Expansion

Strategy, to be implemented over a fifteen (15)

year period, has commenced in earnest.

Expanding the national footprint of training centers

will enable young people to participate where they

are. The following infrastructure expansion

projects were completed in 2016/17: Eenhana,

Rundu and Gobabis Vocational Training Centers.

Groundbreaking ceremonies at Nkurenkuru and

Khorixas marking the commencement of

construction, took place in 2017.

The construction of Omuthiya and Keetmanshoop

centers will commence during the course of this

year, while the Kai//Ganaxab center will be

transformed into a fully-fledged Vocational

Training Center in 2018. We will further explore

financing mechanisms for the National Youth


Service training centers at Rietfontein and


Entrepreneurship and SME development present

immense potential to unlock growth and

employment. This year, Government established

the SME Centre, Venture Capital Fund and Credit

Guarantee Scheme under the Development Bank of

Namibia, to improve access to finance and business

advisory services for Small and Medium sized

Enterprises. Young people are the intended

beneficiaries of these schemes.

Student entrepreneurship programmes at

vocational and tertiary institutions have

collectively trained a total of two-hundred-andsixty-

eight (268) entrepreneurs, during the period

under review.


To facilitate market access, which undermines the

sustainability of growth-seeking enterprises, the

Ministries of Labour; Works, Youth and Higher

Education have been directed to coordinate

implementation of the ‘Public Works Programme’

by so doing, facilitate access to public maintenance


Vocational training institutions have partnered

with private sector to launch the ‘Apprenticeship

Programme’. Work integrated learning will assist

with the transition of graduates into the labour

market. In the pilot stage, internship opportunities

have been secured across 14 private sector

organisations. We expect similar partnerships to be

forged between universities and the private sector.

To facilitate job placement for unemployed

graduates, the Ministry of Labour has been directed

to fully implement the “Namibia-at-Work”


platform, an information management system and

employment matchmaking facility.

Sport has the potential to contribute towards

socio-economic development. The 2018

championships in the codes of Football, Indoor

Hockey, Para-Athletics and Boxing, demonstrated

the role of sport in fostering a spirit of patriotism. I

note with concern challenges and setbacks during

the period under review. Effective governance as

espoused in the Harambee Prosperity Plan aims to

strengthen governance across all sectors, including

institutions governing Sport.

There are instances where young people are

provided capacity building opportunities in sectors

such as agriculture – yet they do not take full

advantage of these. Young Namibians should take

full advantage of the opportunities presented to

them. Our efforts will not be meaningful without

the commitment of our youth.


Honourable Speaker

Honourable Chairperson

It is regrettable that due to slow implementation of

reforms Namibia dropped position, in both the

World Economic Forum competitiveness index and

the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Reports in

2017. Ongoing reforms such as the full

operationalization of the Business and Intellectual

Property Authority and the introduction of the

Single Window Initiative should lead to an

improvement in our ranking towards the end of the

Harambee Prosperity Plan period. I urge all

officials in the public service to decongest systemic

bottlenecks, by executing their tasks with greater

sense of urgency. Senior Officials should ensure

that those permitting bottlenecks to persist are

accountable and called to reckon.


I will announce in the coming weeks a High Level

Panel on the economy. The panel will comprise of

12 eminent figures drawn from diverse

constituencies, of which two will be international.

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Chairperson

We continue to advance on social progression and

are winning the war against poverty. According to

the 2015/16 National Income and Expenditure

Survey, overall poverty declined to 18 percent from

37.7 percent in 2003/04. Food poverty declined to

5.8 percent from 9.0 percent during the same


During the year under review the blueprint on

poverty eradication and its implementation plan

were adopted and launched. The Food Bank

operations in Windhoek continue to yield positive


impact on the livelihood of vulnerable


The remit of the Food Bank is to benefit food

insecure households in urban and peri-urban

centers. After securing income-generating

activities, beneficiaries will be graduated from the

programme. We are aware that the food bank

operation is not a panacea to poverty eradication.

We have always maintained that poverty is a

complex issue that warrants a multi-faceted

approach, including the administration of social

safety nets, provision of top quality education and

health services, provision of affordable housing and

creation of decent employment. The testimonies of

Food Bank beneficiaries confirm that the

programme provides much needed aid where it