WINDHOEK, 11 APR – President Hage Geingob should in Wednesday’s State of the Nation Address spell out concrete measures to deal with graft, and dispel the notion that he only pays lip service to rooting it out, a leading economist said.
Geingob will deliver the speech against the background of weak economic growth, which has failed to generate jobs.
The president has also faced accusations of being too soft on corruption, with a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research earlier this month saying he had not adequately empowered the Anti-Corruption Commission, the police force and courts to properly investigate and prosecute high-profile graft cases.
Economic analyst and University of Namibia economics lecturer, Omu Kakujaha-Matundu urged Geingob to get tougher.
“There are instances where some of these cases are in courts and he will say I have to leave the judiciary to do its work. But there are instances where ministers are involved in corruption who should just be fired right away,” Kakujaha-Matundu said in an interview with Nampa on Tuesday.
“We haven’t seen any action from the president’s side when it comes to corruption.”
Kakujaha-Matundu said Geingob would likely paint a more optimistic outlook for the economy after a tough last few years, but said the government should spend more on infrastructure to stimulate growth.
“One of the things we would love to see is the government not tightening its purse too much, but spending money on those projects that will in the medium term give us returns in terms of economic growth,” he said, singling out a need to refurbish the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
“The airport needs a lot of attention. We have done well in attracting the airlines but if we keep with the airport that we have it is basically going to chase them away,” he warned.
Labour unions also want Geingob to address wages, saying government workers’ salaries are too low.
The government must also spend more on housing and improve access to water, electricity and other basic services for poor communities, Kakujaha-Matundu said.
“These are things that, even if we have to borrow to do them, we can show to the next generation which is going to service the debt that our people are housed, we have a healthy nation,” he said.