Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) is an exception among the liberation movements that became governments in Africa. As Namibia celebrates its 29th Independence Day on 21 March, it can look back on a period of increased consolidation of power.
Other liberation movements haven’t fared as well in the role of governing parties. Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF is the most prominent case in point. For its part, South Africa’s African National Congress had to part from its two thirds majority in parliament in 2009; in 2016 it lost control over most metropolitan municipalities. It faces tough elections on 8 May.
Swapo has not, so far, had to bother about such a loss of legitimacy. Namibia’s system of a post-liberation democracy is a classic case of “competitive authoritarianism”. The term was coined by the US political scientists Steven Levitsky and Lucan A Way. They argue that:
…parties whose origins lie in war, violent anti-colonial struggle, revolution, or counterinsurgency are more likely to survive economic crisis, leadership succession, and opposition challenges without suffering debilitating effects.
They conclude that “revolutionary or liberation struggles also tend to produce a generation of leaders… that possesses the necessary legitimacy to impose discipline during crises”.
new ruling parties that emerged from violent struggle, such as Swapo in Namibia… appear to be more durable.
While Swapo continues to dominate, some cracks are starting to show.
Gerontocracy, crisis and populism
Geingob is expected to be the party candidate again for the next presidential elections in late 2019. He is 77 years old. Swapo’s political office bearers provide evidence of the party’s gerontocratic structures. If the country’s retirement age of 60 for public servants applied to politicians, its political bureau and central committee would have different compositions.
Geingob digressed from his predecessors Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, by replacing the image of Swapo as the nation with a wider formula. In his first state of the nation address in April 2015 he introduced the powerful metaphor of the Namibian house, providing room for all.
But the question about who should be accommodated – and how – remains unanswered.
In 2016 Geingob proclaimed the Harambee Prosperity Plan. It was based on an anticipated annual economic growth rate of 7%. At the time Angola’s oil economy was already in shambles, and South Africa had begun on its rapid economic decline. One of Namibia’s worst droughts was ravaging and the government’s over-expenditure had drained the state coffers.
Then a recession which hit in 2017 turned into a fully-fledged depression. The state’s total debt skyrocketed, which led to spiralling interest payments. As a local report put it:
Namibia has been sleepwalking its way into troublesome debt-to-GDP ratios that have increased from 7% of GDP in 1990/91 to 45% to GDP in 2018/19,
The tabling of the 2019/20 annual budget was postponed twice and is now scheduled for 29 March.
This has fuelled speculation about what the problem might be. One possible answer is that, because parliamentary and presidential elections are taking place in November, the government wants to avoid presenting a budget that signals the fiscal constraints and asks for sacrifices.
The art of denialism
Namibia has problems beyond its economy, too. In his closing comments to the second national Land Conference, Geingob said:
We need to ensure that we are living in a just and fair society, a society in which the mantra of ‘No Namibian must feel left out’ permeates every facet of our coexistence.
But these are just words. The contrast to be found in Namibia’s social realities is striking; for instance, it remains among the world’s most unequal countries.
According to a 2016 survey by the United Nations 37% of the population was malnourished and 24% of all children below the age of five were stunted.
But only external factors were blamed for this miserable performance. After all, populists are never responsible for failures: others must be blamed, along with circumstances beyond leaders’ control.
Urban squatters living in informal settlements are estimated at almost a million people – 40% of Namibia’s total population.
In his new year’s message for 2019, Geingob promised to end this humanitarian crisis by eradicating informal settlements. But he offered no explanation as to how this might be achieved.
Cracks are beginning to emerge
Activists from the Swapo Youth League have fallen out with the party leadership over urban land. Their formation of an Alternative Repositioning Movement in 2015 has turned into a relevant political factor. A frustrated new generation has entered grassroots politics.
Other tensions have become visible too. A fall out between the Deputy Minister for Land Reform Bernardus Swartbooi and his Minister Utoni Nujoma (a son of Namibia’s first President Sam Nujoma) led to Swartbooi’s dismissal first from office and later from Parliament and Swapo.
Previously regional governor in the Southern/Karas region, he founded a Landless People’s Movement in 2017. It has since registered as a political party that’s due to be launched in May.
At a Swapo central committee meeting at end of August last year Geingob denounced those mobilising around the issue of land as “failed politicians” who were merely looking for personal gains. He accused them of playing with people’s emotions, and warned that they could instigate civil war.
Such rhetoric doesn’t sit comfortably with the image of a “Namibian House” in which everyone has a room to live in peace and stability.
The results of the next parliamentary and presidential elections should confirm Swapo’s dominance. But it remains to be seen to what extent the house’s foundations are cracking. On Independence Day not everyone who cheered the hoisting of the Namibian flag 29 years ago will be celebrating.
Stiegler's Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station (SGHPS), which will be able to generate over 2,100MW.
Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, told the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, which visited the construction site recently, that 5,000 Tanzanians would be employed as temporary workers and 400 others would be employed under permanent contracts.
The parliamentary committee, which visited the construction site to assess mobilisation procedures, was led by its chairman, Mr Danstan Kitandula.
According to Mr Kalemani, between 3,000 and 5,000 Tanzanians will be employed during the construction, while between 250 and 400 others will get permanent employment after construction.
"Other 400 Tanzanians will be employed when the project starts to generate 2,225MW. This means they will be employed after construction," he noted.
He added: "Employment opportunities will help Tanzanians get income and improve their lives."
According to Dr Kalemani, the implementation of the project will uplift the livelihoods of Mloka villagers in Rufiji District in Cost Region and of Kisaki villagers in Morogoro Region.
He added that the project would enable the supply of electricity to 37 villages in Kibiti and Chalinze. A total of 12 villages will be connected to electricity under Tanzania Rural Energy Agency (REA) programme.
The government signed a construction agreement with Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric from Egypt in December 2018.
Speaking after the signing of the contract, Speaker of National Assembly Job Ndugai reaffirmed the Parliament's commitment to supporting the implementation of the hydropower project. Mr Ndugai praised the government for achieving what he described as a "historic landmark."
He added that: "As Parliament, we will support the initiative by allocating sufficient funds to make this project successful and useful."
The project is expected to cost 6.5tri/-. In October 4, 2018, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the construction site and asked all Tanzanians and experts to play their roles effectively in ensuring proper implementation of the project.
In February, this year, the government handed over the site to the Egyptian contractor. The move paved the way for the contractor to officially start the job that will avail additional 2,100MW to the national grid.
Source: Daily News
It has become costly for expats to live in Nairobi compared to other African cities, according to the latest survey.
A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey says the cost of living in Kenya’s capital has risen 13 places compared to the previous year’s ranking, placing it at position 69 globally.
This is in contrast to Lagos at position 127, putting it among the 10 cheapest cities in the world. The findings are based on comparison of more than 50,000 individual prices of 160 products and services. The survey tracks prices of food, drinks, clothing, household supplies and personal care items alongside private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.
The report is usually used by companies to help calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers. Kenya’s inflation dropped to 4.69 per cent last year compared to 6.3 per cent the previous year. Appreciation of Kenyan shilling against the dollar leaves expatriates worse-off because it means less money for them after conversion to the local unit.
The shilling gained one per cent against the dollar, becoming the only African currency to strengthen against the greenback in 2018.
“Last year inflation and devaluations were prominent factors in determining the cost of living, with many cities tumbling down the ranking owing to economic turmoil, currency weakness or falling local prices,” the report says.
Nairobi’s ranking by the London-based Economist reinforces the findings of the 2018 survey conducted by UBS, a global bank headquartered in Switzerland.
Prices and Earnings
The study, dubbed Cost of living in cities around the world: Prices and Earnings 2018, also ranked Nairobi at position 68 and the most expensive city to reside in Africa.
The findings, based on prices, earnings, purchasing power and working time, ranked Cairo and Lagos as the least expensive cities globally. A June 2015 survey by Mercer’s 21st Cost of Living also ranked Nairobi 104 out of 207, making it one of the most expensive cities.
For the first time in the history of the Economist’s survey, three cities— Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris — share the title of the world’s most expensive cities. The report found Asia and Europe continuing to dominate the top 10 list.
The cheapest city on Earth was found to be Caracas, displacing Syria's Damascus, as a result of the economic crisis in Venezuela. Singapore is the only city to have maintained its ranking from the previous year. It has been the most expensive city now for five consecutive years.
Credit - Daily Nation Kenya