Of Govt.ÔÇÖs ambitions and trips
Incumbent Government seems to be under attack on various fronts, an issue which might need some self-retrospect, considering it is election year.
The negative attacks will obviously not have any meaningful impact on rulling Swapo’s chances of clinching another term but they need to be looked into, nonetheless. After all, every vote counts.
The biggest headache has been its plans to provide low cost housing to the country’s general populace.
The ambitious Mass Housing project, a brain child of President Pohamba, has been dogged by numerous challenges, with stakeholders last week calling for more consultations over its implementation.
The irony of the matter came when the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (Alan), a grouping of the country’s councils, accused Government of not taking its concerns and views into consideration when it (Government) rolled out the project, yet it is being implemented in their (Alan members) backyards.
“As much as we appreciate President Pohamba’s wish to see all residents with roofs over their heads, we should have come together to brainstorm about issues pertaining to the project. Such consultations should have come earlier,” Windhoek mayor and Alan president, Agnes Kafula, said in Otavi over the weekends, expressing discontent over Government’s manner in implementing the project.
Whether or not the promised 185 000 middle to low income houses will be delivered by 2030, is a matter that needs serious clarification from the drivers of the project.
The same authorities will need to clarify if those intended to benefit from it will do so or if it is only the tenderers who will be the real beneficiaries of the billion dollars pumped into the project by Government.
Weighing in, the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers’ Union (Manwu) also raised concerns over some of the developments of the project, accusing developers of mistreating its members, especially those working in Walvis Bay’s Kuisebmond residential area.
Government has already availed N$2.5b to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) for the construction of the mass housing project housed in the Erongo Region, of which it intends to build at least 8 850 within the next 18 months, as part of the first phase of the project.
As if that is not enough, Prime Minister Hage Geingob who is the ruling party’s candidate in the coming presidential elections, came out to defend his foreign trips, after being placed under the public microscope.
Geingob visited Cuba, Canada and the USA in March, before embarking on trips to Belgium and China this month.
According to critics, the trips were excessive and unwarranted, considering it is the already-strained tax payer who will foot the bills.
Interestingly, he said it is mere short-sightedness and somewhat ignorance to always judge the success of missions abroad by looking at the monetary gains from such trips. The sphere of international relations encompasses numerous geo-political, socio-economic and trade aspects that one has to assess the importance of outward missions by looking at each aspect, not in isolation of the other, the PM’s office said, in defence.
The office even went further to try and justify the need of the rips, saying the outcomes of EPA negotiations are of great significance to Namibia and Africa’s future and “if not handled correctly could have ghastly consequences for the future of our country. Therefore, to simply look at these visits from a monetary angle is somewhat facile.”
But the question many critics must still have is; what is the role of the various embassies dotted around the world?
After all, the same diplomatic missions already gobble hundreds of millions of dollars, with more funds expected to be channelled towards setting up new ones. Is the public or even the media at fault to question Government’s ambitions?