H.E. Dr Hage G. Geingob
President Hage Geingob delivered his highly anticipated State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, 05 April 2016 in a joint session of both houses of Parliament in the National Assembly Chamber. This is his 2nd State of the Nation Address since his inauguration last year.
The annual address required by the Namibian Constitution was concurrently delivered with outlines of the envisaged Harambee Prosperity Plan that is meant to fast-track the achievement of National Development Goals within a period of four years.
The Head of State mentioned a myriad of commitments he made when he assumed office and that most of these commitments have today being achieved. This is despite the fact that it has only been a year since these promises were made. Some of the achievements include the declaration of assets by both the Head of State, Members of Parliament and the entire civil service, implementation of performance agreements, the enactment of the public procurement bill and consultative town hall meetings with citizens among others.
Poverty alleviation has been one of President Geingob’s priority areas. A government Ministry was solely created to tackle this scourge. One of his first steps towards this effort was to increase the old age social grant. “Poverty is multi-faceted and cannot be eradicated overnight. We therefore sought to make an immediate impact on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable by opting to increase the old age social grant. This grant will reach N$1200 in 2017 from N$600 in 2014 representing a 100% increase”, noted President Geingob to loud applause.
With Namibia being one of the most unequal societies in the world with GINI Coefficient estimated at 59.7, President Geingob stated that Namibia is working out modalities of wealth redistribution targeted to be achieved by the year 2025. The blueprint has already been finalized and is likely to be tabled in Parliament for debate.
President Geingob further noted that, as part of immediate poverty eradication intervention measures, the mooted food banks would be operated by unemployed youth who would be compensated as opposed to the controversial Basic Income Grant that gives an allowance to each citizen regardless of their financial standing.
The proposed solidarity tax which has caused anxiety and upheaval particularly among the working class also came under the spotlight during the address with President Geingob giving assurances that a task team that includes independent tax experts and headed by the Minister of Finance has been established to draft a white paper on this tax. He however clarified that the payment threshold targeted is in high income brackets only.
President Geingob announced that as a result of the equal gender representation policy known as 50/50 Zebra style in the governing Swapo party, Namibia is now ranked 2nd in Africa and 4th in the world in terms of female representation in Parliament.