Tonight, as you gather with family and friends in anticipation, and with expectant hearts the dawn of the Year 2020, I wish each one of you a happy, healthy and fulfilling New Year.
As we enter the Year 2020, we pause to undertake personal and collective introspection. We pause to take stock of the successes we have scored, the opportunities we have missed, the lessons we have learned and the improvements we need to make.
You will agree with me that 2019 was a challenging year for our country. In the middle of a depressed economy in which commodity prices have remained low, Mother Nature was not kind to us. We experienced one of the worst droughts in our recorded history, with adverse consequences on crop and livestock production. We were forced to declare a state of Drought Emergency, increasing pressure on our national budget.
We pray to the Almighty that in the coming days and months, we will receive much-needed rain, to revitalize our lands and bring much-needed nourishment to our people and animals. Despite the difficulties of 2019, as a resilient nation, we have much to be proud of and have reasons to look forward to a better 2020.
Just over a month ago, Namibians participated in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections. As I stated during the rallies, this is not a war between enemies – but a contest between brothers and sisters. Without doubt, our 7th democratic elections were one of the most fiercely contested since our Independence in 1990. The spirited contestation by respective candidates and parties notwithstanding, the elections were conducted in a climate and spirit of peace. In democratic contestation, there are winners and losers.
I thank the people of Namibia, who are the true victors, for having ensured, through their maturity and orderly conduct that Namibian democracy continues to mature.
As Government, we have listened to the cries and calls of the sovereigns. We have heard you. You pointed out areas of improvement to us. On unemployment, we heard you. On the economic situation, we heard you. On the lack of decent shelter, we heard you. On the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), where scores of students are left in dire straits due to poor implementation and execution of duties, we heard you. In the fishing sector, where fishermen lost their jobs as a consequence of mismanagement, we have also heard you. We will review all fishing quotas in order to ensure that the allocations are fair to those who have made tangible investments in this vital sector to our economic development. Our fourteen Regions will be allocated the remaining quotas to ensure accelerated development.
Investors and business people will be provided with Yes or No answers in the shortest period of time following their applications for business endeavours. I made it clear during the final Cabinet Meeting of 2019 that we can no longer conduct business as usual. The size of Cabinet shall be reduced and an attempt at 50/50 representation shall be made. Persistent lack of implementation of Government policies and programs cannot continue any longer.
As we seek to be better and do better in the New Year, we should endeavour to uproot from our society those scourges, which act as a hindrance to our progress as a nation. The Government commits to intensifying the fight against poverty, and specifically the fight against corruption. Our commitment to transparency and the trust we place in our processes, systems and institutions, should permit us to allow accused persons implicated in acts of wrongdoing to be tried under the due process of the law.
I wish to thank the Churches and Faith-based Organisations for the crucial role they play in spreading the message of love, respect and unity in our society. Hatred on the basis of race, tribe or ethnicity cannot be tolerated in a free Namibia.
Let us take a resolution to eradicate the disease of Gender-Based Violence from our society during the year 2020. We should take the collective decision to create a Namibian society, which is tolerant of women and children. A society, in which they feel loved, respected and protected. I wish to express gratitude to our men and women of the uniformed services, the Namibian Police, supported by the Namibia Defence Force, for their sterling work in maintaining law and order within our borders.
The Government has a responsibility towards you, the people, as the ultimate sovereigns. However, let us also adopt the attitude of responsibility within our households and communities. We should adopt a caring and selfless attitude as we enter the year of our Fourth Decade of Independence. Let us learn to put others before us rather than always placing ourselves before others. Let us respect ourselves and thereby respect our elders. Let us learn to address each other with respect, as orderly people, who are socially and culturally sound. Let us learn to agree to disagree, without resorting to vulgarities and the denigration of our brothers and sisters.
I call on New Year’s revellers nationwide to act responsibly. Excessive alcohol consumption is often the fuel for disorderly and violent conduct. Bar and shebeen owners should adhere to legal business hours, and law-enforcement agencies should act against violators.
At this hour, at the cusp of 2019, I call on all of you to embrace the promise of 2020 by behaving in a mature and responsible manner. Wherever you are headed, make sure you arrive alive. Be safe, care for one another. Let us hold hands as we enter 2020, ready to build a better and caring Namibian House.