Is Harambee a substitute for Vision 2030 ?
For the first time since the concept Harambee appeared on our radars earlier this year, we have been given a clear view of what the President intends with this ambitious undertaking.
The President used the occasion of his State of the Nation address on Tuesday, to convey certain key Harambee concepts phrased more for general consumption. The intimidating 72-page State of the Nation address must have made a tremendous impression on the government’s grassroots followers, especially since it revolves around the so-called Harambee Prosperity Plan which proposes all sorts of tried and tested solutions to win the battle against poverty.
It was only once I have received the formal Harambee Prosperity Plan document that I realised this process was long in the making. This is an 84-page document, structured according to several sections which form the skeleton of Harambee. But it is fleshed out in detail, and it contains many benchmarked proposals, indicative of much research and processing of information. The Harambee document was not compiled in the time from the budget statement to the State of the Nation address.
Anybody familiar with conceptualisation, research methodology and the processing of data and information, will tell you this is the work of many individuals over a fairly long period of time. So it suggests, Harambee has been in the making for a considerable time.
Furthermore, it is clear from the structure that many concepts and proposals are a repeat of earlier attempts to formulate a comprehensive development plan, most notably Vision 2030. Yet, I noticed that Harambee is much more practical and realistic, for instance under the Mass Housing Scheme of the President’s predecessor, 200,000 houses were proposed. Under Harambee, only 20,000 houses are proposed but in a shorter time span.
This is not the place to dissect Harambee. It is far too wide and comprehensive to discuss meaningfully in such limited space. But I can guarantee you that Harambee, over the ensuing months, will be analysed from all possible angles by both supporters and critics.
At this point, I believe the Harambee process revolves mostly about buy-in. From the beginning of his term the President has made some very welcome sounds, specifically addressing such sensitive issues as pervasive and continuous poverty, income disparity, glaring inequality, and using the state apparatus to promote economic growth. These earlier vague indications of what exactly it means to build the Namibian House, have in the meantime been defined, collated and published in the rather extensive Harambee document.
I have to admit, at the time of the budget statement by the finance minister, I was still completely in the dark regarding the meaning and intention of Harambee. That is just over a month ago. Since then, Harambee has exploded into our mindsets and is demanding our full attention.
Perhaps it is premature to express an opinion on Harambee. The details have not been around and available long enough and I presume it will take a while for everybody to digest the full contents. It will also take a while and lots of input to assess the credibility and the executability of many of the suggestions and schemes. Eventually, I believe there will be many opinions.
When I glossed over my Harambee copy, I was amazed at the amount of work that went into it. It is immediately apparent that this is the result of a long and complex refining process. But then I wondered, if we need a new development plan every few years, and a new framework to state our goals and give us a roadmap, what under the heavens are 120,000 government employees doing every day to add value to the Namibian House. If I add all the individuals working for the myriad of government agencies, then the question becomes even more demanding. What are all those people doing if we need a new plan to tell us what we should do and where we are heading.
We have a fully functional National Planning Commission. Is it not their job to design our development roadmap? We have a ministry for every aspect of government and governance. Is it not their job to implement the most optimal solutions to our problems.
And if Harambee specifically states that service delivery and efficiency is essential to realise our dreams, what have all the civil servants been doing for the past 26 years.
I was just wondering.