Comments on Harambee Prosperity Plan

The NCCI presented consolidated private sector comments on the Harambee Prosperity Plan to the Office of the President. The NCCI expressed appreciation of the plan and said the private sector was generally in agreement with the identified priority areas. However, it observed that the scope of the pillars and sub-pillars differs in the sense that some are quite broadly defined while others are already more specific. In some areas, the private sector felt that the topics could be improved by defining the sub-areas more specifically.

"We take the premise that economic activities, economic behavior, economic organizations, and economic policy never exist in a vacuum but always within a broader social context. Thus looking into the mirror of our social development, we painfully recognise that our society is undergoing a brutal journey with many traumatising experiences. During the apartheid era families were separated which messed up the family as a social institution to play its “normal” role in social development and gave rise to a certain suboptimal culture. Today we see negative social developments in many areas starting with early child care, nourishment, physical safety, space for learning, playing, positive role models to imitate, suitable circumstances for education. In recent years teenager pregnancy, rape and harassment, gender based violence, hunger and water scarcity, dilapidated schools or no classrooms at all made it to the news. We are at a stage we cannot expect to produce better results from grade 12 exams if we supply children into the education system who live under non-decent circumstances. Once natural resources (diamonds and uranium) are extracted we only have our most precious resource, our children and their ability to innovate to take over the flame of independence. Consequently we see many of the aspects to be touched under the pillar of Social Development as closely interlinked with the social institution of family:

  • Early child development early child mortality
  • Cultural values and role models for behaviour
  • Nutrition and food (2000 kcl per day, but the composition of the food is as important)
  • Basic education and support for further studies including vocational training
  • Social education and self-reflection in a group environment to foster the self confidence
  • Housing is generally organised by families"
Based on the forgoing context, the NCCI made the following general comments and recommendations

  • "First, we would suggest a sub-pillar of culture, with the aim to promote the family as the kernel of a comprehensive and long-term societal development and define certain values for the Namibian house, which we find to be a compelling allegory. We suspect that a large part of the kind of poverty found in Namibia could be cured by adopting a value system based culture. Although poverty can be manifest in hunger, our efforts could be more effective if also targeted below hunger, at the root causes while addressing the survival issues of hunger. Mr. Robby Amadthila probably summarized well when said “Poverty is not “a hungry stomach” but a situation of poor access to means or laziness to employ the means available to one. The sub-pillar aiming to build a value system based culture could be executed via different communication channels calling for accountability from parents and guardians in our society. A home is a school, a hospital, a repair yard, a business unit or factory. The members of the home or family are the first line of support or defence. It is here where social progress begins, where we are cultured, where responsibilities and accountabilities are assumed. It is also at this point of social connection that poverty or prosperity is experienced, where we dine or starve, drown in alcohol or drugs. The attitude of the fathers and mothers or guardians determines whether or not the children access electricity, health care, education, sanitation, Wi-Fi, computers, cell phones, roads and many other things. If this social connection point is poor or faint, the culture of our society or nation also weathers. The attitude we all carry in public, even at work is born and nurtured in the home. The entrepreneurial spirit which carries society to afluence is also nurtured in the home. The spirit of harambee is nurtured in the home. The state provides support mechanisms of last resort or enablers. It is at home that we all learn to contribute and become affectionate members of society. This is one area Namibia scores poorly in the Legatum Prosperity Index.
  • We are further of the view that the presidency could promote the idea that state efforts are supplemental to individual efforts. This should not be construed as saying efforts to strengthen the social safety nets such as payouts and food banks be aborted. Instead we should make it clear in our communications that the State is providing supplemental means to help people survive in poverty, while they make efforts to help themselves break out of poverty, which is a personal or family responsibility. The fight against poverty truly requires individual efforts first while the State removes the stumbling blocks and provides the spring board or bridges for citizens to break out of poverty and access prosperity but cannot take the individual steps on the bridge. In a market economy like Namibia, there is always a chance to find an opportunity and we assume that the focus should always not be to simply entitle people but to foster their motivation to do something in return of what they get from the state or neighbour, to take responsibility of their lives. Namibia has become independent and so it gained a lot of rights but on the other hand it is exposed to the international competition amongst nations. This competition even trickles down to the single citizen who not only is given citizenship but also the duty to contribute to the development of Namibia as a nation. Self-confidence can grow and flourish if we are willing to perform and if we are open and willing to learn from our experience. In our young nation we have a lot of opportunities businesswise coming up in the course of the development but it is not suffice to say “we own them” and then don’t perform on them. We owe it to the nation to accept the responsibilities to deliver what we aspire to. The private sector worldwide is employing and nourishing billions of people and so does the private sector in Namibia. To do so it needs education, experience, a fair market structure and the aspiration to always be innovative even towards the most basic challenges.
  • The value system based culture could therefore include Self-worth, hard work, thrifty and external stimuli in the form of incentives. For example, education of children is the responsibility of the family first. The state could provide incentives (tax perhaps) to both natural and juristic persons to encourage them to assist the State to create talent in the economy. This could be done by increasing the allowed limit for donations for certain categories such as educational expenditures. Similarly for individuals, educational expenditures in addition to premiums for educational policies could be made tax deductible.
  • While we concur that much has been done and achieved in strengthening social safety nets since Independence, but we also see a lack of interlinking initiatives and activities. In addition to strengthening social safety nets, we should also optimize the allocations otherwise we will be constrained by the scarce resources. For example, old age grants could be limited to people with no access to other support programs such as veterans grants, spouse payouts or retirement annuities of some level."