Harsh year gone by, action paramount for next

AS the year draws to a close, we appear to be back where we started, a time where economic recovery was elusive compounding the widespread anxiety caused by the hospitalisation rates and the intensifying socio-economic hardship that faced the most vulnerable in Namibia owing to grave implications of Covid-19.

Although vaccinations and other measures have provided some reprieve during the year, this clearly has not been nearly enough to soften the economic blows faced by those on the margins of the economy.

The year 2021 that we will soon be bidding farewell to has proven harsher than the previous year 2020, when Covid-19 cohabited with us for the first time. Many countries had their economies brought to an abrupt halt by the spread of the coronavirus, especially after the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant. In the wake of this variant, supply chains were disrupted, causing a severe shortage of supply to manufacturers and retailers and raising the spectre of inflation.

Wealthy countries were able to ameliorate the severity of the pandemic through a combination of vaccine rollout at a brisk pace and vigorous implementation of economic recovery measures under the build back better theme. Meanwhile, many developing countries including ours lacked the fiscal resources to achieve economic recovery and procure vaccines at a similar scale as wealthy ones.

Indeed, the slow pace of vaccination has been the Achilles’ heel of many low-income and developing countries such like Namibia. Whereas wealthy countries had 60 percent of their populations vaccinated by the third quarter of 2021, low-income countries still had 95 percent of their population unvaccinated, according to the October edition of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.

And the longer the pandemic endures, mainly due to large numbers of unvaccinated people, the less fiscal space Namibia will have to support economic dynamism and cushion the most vulnerable in society.

As we look to 2022, our biggest hope must be that we are about to step into a year of action. If in 2022 we still have more of the same, it will be too late to arrest governance failures and economic decline. Failure to take bold action could result in more of virulent and anarchic actions from citizens who feel like the walls are closing and nothing seems to be progressing.

The year 2022 will be another crunch time for President Hage Geingob, following a massive past two years in which he has had to deal with changes brought by Covid-19 and a fast changing economic and political arena needing special leadership qualities.

Politically, Geingob will face another stern test at the elective conference of Swapo at the end of that year, and with less than two years left before the general elections.

None of Namibia’s challenges are insurmountable. But the window is narrowing fast for the political leadership, and drastic measures are urgently needed to turn both the political and economic tide for the better.

From us here at Confidente, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!