Ground Geingob - Venaani

13 June 2019 | Politics

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says Namibia remains “rudderless” as President Hage Geingob clocks up “frequent flyer miles” while scores of breadwinners in the country are at home as a result of mass retrenchments.

“They should curb the president's flying and send delegations to secure foreign investment. There has been zero return from the presidency's flying except loan offers that will end up making us economic slaves,” Venaani said yesterday.

He was responding to the latest statistics released by the Employment Equity Commission (ECC), which indicated that nearly 37 000 employment contracts were terminated for various reasons in 2017/18, with the wholesale retail sector leading the pack with 12 580 terminations.





The agriculture and construction sectors were also hard hit by massive job losses.

Geingob returned yesterday from Nigeria where he celebrated Democracy Day in that country.

His travelling has been a source of discontent since he became president in 2015, and this has been exacerbated by the shocking state of the economy and government's finances.

In April, during a question and answer session after he delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona), the head of state claimed he does not enjoy travelling, but had no choice because as president, he has the mandate to represent Namibia at international events.

The subject of Geingob's travelling has been highlighted in many news reports.

Last year, The Namibian noted that the president had travelled to 16 countries since assuming the presidency in 2015. These destinations included China, Kenya, Mauritania, Canada, England, Ethiopia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Guinea, and Portugal.

In January this year Geingob travelled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to attend the Zayed Sustainability Prize award ceremony and the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

In February he travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he met with that country's new president.

In April the president travelled to Portugal to attend a three-day meeting of international business and political leaders.

Geingob also attended the inauguration of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in May.



Cut to the bone

Venaani said finance's minister Calle Schlettwein primary job must now be saving and creating jobs.

“He must cut all perks and luxuries to the bone. Saving and creating jobs must now be his only job, because these are real families, not just statistics. The Harambee sloganeering must end. It is a failure. It's time for real politick with people at the centre.”

Venaani also said there is a need for Namibians across political homes to urgently find a way to create jobs. He therefore repeated his call that a jobs summit should he held as a matter of urgency.



“We know that thousands of breadwinners are now at home. We know that one in every two youth are unemployed, and yet its business as usual for the sitting government,” said Venaani.



He said the jobs summit must include aligning the required skills to what students are studying and act as platform where entrepreneurs are linked with funders and donors.



According to Venaani, the innovation, science and IT sectors should receive special focus.



Earlier this year, Geingob appointed a 22-member High Level Panel on the Economy (HLPE) to help bring in an investment of US$1 billion (or about N$15 billion at the current exchange rate) within the next two years.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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