Newspaper Contribution

Loud silence as Harambee turned three


16 Apr 2019

The Harambee Prosperity Plan – launched in 2016 – turned three years old on 1 April 2019. The Presidency could however not respond to questions regarding the progress of the plan saying a progress report will form part of the upcoming State of Nation Address.

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is an annual event, in which the President reports on the status of the nation, normally to the resumption of a sitting of Parliament.

Article 32 (2) of the Namibian Constitution provides that the President must attend Parliament during the consideration of the National Budget. At this occasion, the President must also address Parliament on the State of the Nation and on the future policies of the government. He/she also reports on the policies of the previous year and is available to respond to questions.

President Hage Geingob in his foreword of the Harambee Prosperity Plan said that what is required in order for the HPP to work, “is an understanding that it is no longer business as usual.”

“We are not only required to act with more urgency to reform processes, we are also required to reform our minds and attitudes and pull in the same direction. A new culture of efficiency and accountability is critical to foster the change we wish to see,” Geingob said.

Chapter three of the plan is titled ‘effective governance and service delivery’ with sub-pillars titled accountability, transparency and improved performance and service.

An economist and social activist who chose not to be named said that the fact that there has not been any progress report on the day the plan turned three, speaks directly against the accountability provision in the plan. “There were targets set in the Harambee Prosperity Plan and there were promises made based off of these targets, the Namibian nation was requested to all contribute towards the realisation and success of this document. Whether you are part of civil society or not, the fact that you are a Namibian citizen made you responsible to doing your part in pulling together for the success of the HPP.

It is based on this that I am of the strong opinion that the government must be held accountable on the progress and achievements of the plan. Government must be in a position to tell its people where we are regarding the targets that we set for ourselves,” the economist said.

He added that it is right to ask whether the plan has failed or not, and if it did fail, what went wrong and what the way forward is, to achieve the targets.

Fellow economist Klaus Schade has said that since no progress report was published in 2018, it is not known whether all the plans were implemented or whether progress had been hampered by the lack of implementation.

The Patriot recently reported that The Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) has failed to better the country’s global rating for ease of business as set out in their targets and proposed strategies.

The ease of business is one of many other targets set out to contribute to the positive growth of the country’s economy and development.

The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2018’ report showed that Namibia was ranked 106th out of 190 countries.

Economist at Standard Bank Namibia, Naufiku Hamunime was quoted in The Patriot as saying that while Namibia was overall ranked 106 out of 190 countries for ease of doing business, the country was ranked 172 out of 190 countries for starting a business and 174th out of 190 countries when it comes to registering properties.

Former economic advisor in the Office of the President John Steytler, last year said that the HPP can be considered a success.

Steytler was also quoted as saying he does not think HHP failed, despite admitting that government was behind schedule on set targets such as poverty eradication.

A 2017 review of the HPP stated that Namibia minimally overshot its debt to GDP target by 7 percentage points.

They maintained that the progress of the plan remains on track throughout all the pillars.

Economist Klaus Schade told The Patriot that because there has been no progress report published in 2018, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive assessment on the Plan. He added that targets have not been met, such as debt-to-GDP ratio and the credit rating at BBB due to the economic slowdown, investment targets, competitiveness, provision of sanitation and housing – to name a few.

“However, Namibia has made progress in some areas, such as import coverage above 3 months, no load-shedding, expansion of the Walvis Bay harbour, intake at VTCs etc,” Schade said.

Regarding the provision of 2 500 manufacturing jobs target, Schade said that according to the Labour Force Survey 2018, slightly more than 600 jobs were created in the manufacturing sector between 2016 and 2018.

He agreed that Namibia actually dropped in the rankings of the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economy Forum and the Doing Business Report published by the World Bank.

“We need much more concerted efforts to improve the country’s competitiveness, since this will contribute to stronger economic growth and job creation,” the economist shared.