The recent fiscal management measures and directives issued by Government must and should be followed by tangible actions if Namibia is to turn the tide of bad economic and political news it was bombarded with in 2017. With all that news on a daily basis, there was never really any doubt in each and every Namibian’s mind that this year (2018) would be tough, if not tougher than last year. By late 2017 we already knew that late salaries in some SOEs, retrenchment packages, public service vacancy freezes, etc. would be a regular feature of our life and that business activity would take a knock – following the collapse of the construction industry. We know that industrial activities i.e. strikes, demonstrations etc. would feature strongly on our media platforms, TV, newspaper and nowadays Facebook. We also knew, following the watershed ruling party congress, that our political landscape will not be same again.

AND SO ALL THIS ARE UNFOLDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES TODAY.

When the annual GDP numbers came out recently, many analysts were united in singing a same song – that of an uncertainty economic outlook – we knew that things were not looking up. When latest Public debt numbers showed up, it had gone beyond everybody’s expectations. This was a real shocker – most economists and government financial analysists had predicted that it would slow down and remain within the threshold (debt-to-GDP ratio ceiling), but lo and behold! The real shocker, however, was the recent lead-by-example act of cost cutting by the highest office in the land. That of using the scheduled flight to the AU summit as a cost-effective measure. Very commendable indeed and all Namibian should emulate that noble example. The extent of the situation became pretty obvious for everyone.

A NEW POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC NARRATIVE

We are likely to come out looking worse than 2017 unless something spectacular happens. The political challenge is to look to the future and begin to carve out a new narrative telling our people and the world that we are going through a patch, but – crucially – that we have a plan which means that in maybe 5-10 years’ time, we will look back at 2018 as a year or reckoning.  For this to happen, it is imperative that all our leaders have sober minds, strong dedication and single-minded as well as an unquestionable team spirit. On the economic front, this calls for an urgent economic recovery plan. A plan that will provide a blueprint for a return to sustainable growth in our economy. In particular, this plan should;

  • Set out the measures that will be taken to restore order to our public finances.
  • Identifies the area of economic activities which will provide growth and employment in the recovery
  • Specify the reforms the government will implement to accelerate growth in those key sectors.

QUIT BLAMING GAMES

We all know what has gone wrong last year and in years past. We all live here and have seen ourselves and our compatriots at our best and our worst moments. This is no time for pointing fingers. Wasting time and money on trying to pin the blame on either His Excellence Dr Hage Geingob, Hifikepunye Pohamba or the founding father Dr. Sam Nujoma will not help change the situation. It is time for leaders to implement some serious policies to ensure that the poorest of the poor have bread on the table. The citizens must also emulate and support the leadership of the day to help turn around the economy.

THE OUTLOOK

The question on each and every Namibian’s mind is how 2018 will look like. Will 2018 simply entrench this sad economic reality that we are currently living, will the nation continue to read miserable headlines telling us about job losses, economic contractions, etc? It is clear that there will not be much growth in 2018 as all economic fundamentals remain preety much similar to how they appeared in 2017. Leading indicators such as vehicles sales, credit to private sector, business confidence indicators still points downwards.To prevent the further worsening of the situation, leadership need to back-up the public pronouncements on fiscal management measures with tangible actions. They need to show leadership that commits to the plans and its implementation. The time for talking is over, this is a time for action.