Southern Times Writer
Windhoek – Namibian President Hage Geingob says despite the dark clouds that COVID-19 has brought, the country is slowly but surely coming to terms with the pandemic, and he remains that the nation will overcome the challenge.
In a wide-ranging interview with New Era on the occasion of his 80th birthday on August 3, President Geingob praised the resilience of Namibians, and rallied the nation to continue putting its best foot forward in combatting the pandemic.
“It has been the most difficult time for businesspeople. Small businesses had to close down. The jobs have been lost. Unemployment among the youth is bad. We are saying now we have a plan and we are going to move out of it. Yes, the economic situation is bad, but I think it is not all doom and gloom. We are pulling through.”
He said the road was not easy but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“We have a serious deficit and debt, which is also going up, and when you have a disease like that, we took action – very stringent action. I see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Towards the end of the year, the economy will open up – tourism and hotels. Restaurants are opening up already so that people can start to work and pay taxes. The economic situation is bad but if we didn’t manage the pandemic as we are doing it, you would have had a crisis in this country.
“We have been frugal when it comes to expenditure, and Namibians have also joined us in the fight against covid. We would like to thank them.
“Ordinary people are in the worst situation, but so far, we have peace – and that we should not take for granted. These people can easily be misled by any troublemaker because they will be told they have nothing to lose. But Namibians know better,” President Geingob said.
Turning to national politics, President Geingob – who is serving his second and final term as Head of State and Government – said he anticipated a smooth transition at the end of his tenure.
On regional affairs, he said Namibia had carved a niche as a respected member of the international community, highlighting his 2018-19 tenure as SADC Chairperson as a watershed moment in the DRC’s political development.
He said SADC’s non-interference policy allowed the DRC to chart its own course and had averted a constitutional crisis in that country.“Our standing internationally at the UN, I am a UN man; we are really respected as is the case with my predecessors. People came to know a lot about Namibia, and some regarded it as their country too because they were part of the whole process. I was in a meeting with top people, who said Namibia, today, is well-respected. We have good standing in Africa and in the world,” President Geingob said.