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The pain has delivered long-term gain

The pain has delivered long-term gain

By Dr. John Steytler
Written in his capacity.

As I watched and listened to Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi table the national budget under the theme ‘Continuing the Legacy of Hage Geingob’, my heart grew heavy, but I also felt pride. The untimely passing of our President caused great shocks and sadness across Namibia and Africa. I felt this loss acutely, as I had had the privilege of working side by side with the great man. The pride I felt stemmed from knowing that Dr. Geingob’s vision was bearing fruit and that the finance minister could afford to be more generous, due to the accelerated growth that our economy was experiencing. The Namibian House had suffered setbacks and economic hardship, but the vision that President Geingob had, has led us to our present position.

We are not out of the woods, and we must remain fiscally and financially prudent in our socio-economic activities. Our economic growth surpassed my most optimistic projections and the projections of analysts by a large margin means that are looking at an enduring economic recovery. At the end of 2023, I published a column where I predicted that the Namibian economy would be on course for a growth of approximately 4.5% for the year. The economy achieved 5.6% growth; numbers don’t lie; we are a resurgent nation that is punching above its weight. The Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) is the absolute bedrock of this growth in the economy and sadly, Dr. Geingob is not here to witness the recovery he set in motion and worked so hard for. He leaves Namibia in the best possible shape and positioned for further growth and development.

President Geingob knew that from the first day on the job in his first term, his focus needed to be on economic survival and long-term economic growth for Namibia. As his economic adviser, I played a small part in bringing his ambitious vision of growth and prosperity to life through HPP. Namibia, as a country and we as a population went through a challenging period marked by drought, economic downturn, and COVID-19. Economically, socially, and individually, the impact and pain were severe.

The President during his time in office suffered major criticism for his policies as well as for his cutting the fat in the National budget and for his travel overseas. He countered that the travel was necessary as he was marketing Namibia to investors across the globe. We now are seeing a burgeoning oil and gas sector in Namibia, as a direct result of these economic and investment missions. Investment and the returns are never about ‘fast money’, it is about delayed gratification. The economic growth and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) we see now is the reward or ‘gain’ for all the years of investment and hardship we endured. Dr. Hage Geingob epitomized the old saying; ‘Blessed are those who plant trees under whose shade they will never sit in’.

Our population needs to know, understand, and process what we went through in the last few years. Part of becoming a revitalized nation meant healing from the knocks we took and adversity we faced. A revitalized nation needs a resilient populace that is active, motivated, and ready to participate in the growing economy. The HPP which was President Geingob’s brainchild was the blueprint for the growth of Namibia and all Namibians ‘pulling together’ in the same direction toward success. The true spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ comes to mind. I do not know any African leader who quite embodied the spirit of Ubuntu as our President did.

The peaceful and seamless transition of power to our new president, the Honourable Nangolo Mbumba and Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, means that Namibia will continue on this path of growth and economic development. Although our nation is still healing and continues to mourn the loss of Dr. Hage Geingob, he can rest peacefully in the knowledge that he has left Namibia in the best possible shape. He embraced the pain so Namibia could reap the gain in the coming years.

Rest in Peace, my President.


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