Fitch rating and the way forward
Namibia is not in a good socio-economic place at the moment and ill-advised public utterances and perceptibly unbecoming [deafening] silence on the part of senior government and political decision-makers just contribute to paintubg the situation a tad worse… in bad times [things] take on a different hue and seriousness and cannot be ignored. (Insight Magazine Sept, 16 2016)
It is a trite fact that the country’s economic outlook has been downgraded.
The antithesis of the above is that 12 months into office was not the yardstick used to arrive at the said rating. We are alive to the fact that many deals were pushed through before this administration came into being.
There was the home affairs deal of close to N$1 billion that no one seems interested to talk about, the Angolan deal of U$392 million commission, which happened without a contract, just for the said contract now to be stitched together by a junior lawyer after the fact and the airport deal. The list is endless. None of these had anything to do with the current president, or the current minister of works, or that of finance.
My economist friend whispered to me that it was discovered that we are indebted to SACU in the range of billions. SACU turned out to be “our lifeline” and instead of saving we splashed it on over-inflated tenders for projects that had no real returns. By the time the over-payment was discovered it was too late.
Since 1990, we had chief executive officers, who despite having operated under a protectionist environment, never even bothered to save for the eventuality. Nampower knew about the existence of an agreement between ‘South West Africa’ and South Africa, but opted to release glossy reports, instead of planning.
Namwater knew about the climatic conditions of our country and never bothered to save for Neckertal Dam. TransNamib knew about the ailing infrastructure, yet no one bothered. Instead we ate as if we would not see the rise of the next sun, or as if the country was still being governed by someone else, or as if somebody was coming to snatch it away from us!
Whatever the noise, our house has been downgraded. Full stop! The only way out of here is for us to sit down as occupants of the same house and agree to stand up at the same time and with the same sincerity.
The current economic situation is as a result of what we, as the collective, did or did not do since 2000. We should all acknowledge blame in order for all of us to see the need for what the sitting president and those committed officials of his are trying to achieve.
Engineering social discontent, or myths and distortion of facts will never serve this country or anyone. We have many pressing issues and the cost of living is too high. The same principle that applies in our homes, where you have to tighten the belt, should be the same principle that should guide us as we have “only inherited this country from our children”, as Obama once noted.
Yes, we are at a tipping point, because of our actions over the last 16 years and not the last 12 months.
Besides the above, the collapse of the Angolan economy and the chaotic scenes from our neighbour down south, all played a role in this process. We only need to apply our minds to the situation at hand, from top to bottom, if we are to emerge unscathed from this. Complaining and pointing fingers will not help anyone.
We are called upon to “try and recognise the current financial situation as an opportunity to seriously reflect on how Namibia will focus on the development of a sustainable economy, as Bärbel Kirchner recently pointed out.
* Joshua Razikua Kaumbi is a holder of BA in Political Science (Unam), LLB (Stell) and is a practising admitted attorney.