This is New Era Weekend’s last edition of 2016. And what a year it’s been. Least of all for New Era Weekend, which came into existence only six months ago.
Although 2016 cannot be defined as ‘annus horribilis’ – the Latin phrase for ‘horrible year’ made famous by Her Majesty the Queen of England in 1992 – it has been a year of mixed fortunes for Namibians.
The drought had a disastrous compounding effect on the countries overall production and output, with primary and secondary sectors feeling the pinch. At some point, the City of Windhoek almost rationed water, while communal farmers countrywide, who depend on communal boreholes, lost livestock, which for many represents their only wealth.
The global economic downturn was lower than expected and forced the Namibian Treasury to implement massive budget cuts. Consumers are feeling the pinch and household financial budgets are under strain.
The global economy has now entered its sixth year of stagnation, and the growth outlook for 2017 shows a worrying continuation of this trend.
However, Namibia has been through worse and there is no doubt that the country shall weather this storm.
It was encouraging to hear from the director general and minister of national planning, Tom Alweendo, in his comments on the successes of the Harambee Prosperity Plan. Thus far, the agency is looking not only at better implementation, but also at being better at prioritising the critical areas that will benefit the public, and then coordination and execution of these projects.
For too long government has rolled out intervention plans and economic stimulus packages without first engaging the public. For the first time the planners and those entrusted to formulate development programmes for the next national development plan, have gone out to engage the public.
This is to really find out what the public consider as critical areas needing prioritisation.
It would be interesting to see how the development plan for the next five years prioritises developmental sectors, and how it aligns these with the Harambee Prosperity Plan, when its new targets are out next year.
This is a document that is meant to inject an upward momentum in the working of our economy and its success is of vital importance to us all.
We are entering the festive season, a time that marks the time of year when all Namibians take a well deserved rest. A time to reconnect with those we have not seen in months, perhaps years, or just have not seen since last year’s wedding or last Christmas. It is a time to discover extended family, welcome new in-laws into the family, and simply just count our blessings.
New Era Weekend wishes all its readers a happy festive season. We wish our fellow countrymen safe driving on the roads and hope to see them exercise caution and regard for fellow road users, and most importantly, not to drink and drive. The first edition for 2017 will be available on 04 February 2017.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.