Putting Namibians first
31 May 2019 | Columns
It is commendable that government is finally focusing on doing things right and in the interest of Namibians. The recent directive by finance minister Calle Schlettwein discouraging the importing of bottled water, vegetables, fruit, poultry, cleaning materials, toilet paper, dairy products, seafood, fish, meat and meat products, among others, is indeed laudable and good news to many business owners who are desperately trying to sustain their operations in these tough times. This week, New Era also reported that government has directed all its offices and agencies wishing to procure vehicles to ensure they are acquired from the Peugeot assembly plant in Walvis Bay. This is long overdue. According to the minister the directive is a measure to enable local participation in the economy and enhance domestic productive capacity within the framework of the Procurement Act of 2015. The sluggish and weak domestic economy has battered many businesses. Job creation in this country has been woefully off target for many years and we are actually seeing more and more Namibians losing their jobs on a larger scale than ever before. Companies have been forced to unexpectedly shed jobs because of the poor-performing economy and the country slipping into an economic depression. There is no doubt that small businesses are among the biggest providers of jobs in this country and government has a moral obligation to support Namibian entrepreneurs, in order to grow the economy. As well-respected economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu highlighted earlier this week, the noble idea to ban imports should go hand in hand with increased support for local businesses. However, support for locals should not end here. The authorities must also ensure that there are measures to strengthen industrialisation, through the conversation of raw materials into finished goods. Essentially, the processing of raw materials and manufacturing will not only spur job creation, but ensure long-term sustainability and profitability. The time is now to put Namibia and its people first, and this must be done with the utmost urgency.