5 MAY 2015
Honorable Chairperson of the Whole House Committee,
We are discussing the 2015/16 Budget at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on the African continent, albeit for different reasons. From north to west and east of Africa, hundreds of desperate youths continue to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in search of better living conditions. In the Southern part of Africa, xenophobic attacks have been inflicted on African men and women, also looking for better living conditions for themselves. In West Africa, we are still hoping for the safe return of the more than 200 Nigerian girls who were abducted by Boko Haram more than a year ago. In east Africa, terrorist attacks are on the increase. In North Africa while some stability has been restored in Egypt, we continue to be concerned about the situation in Libya. The underlying factors are weak institutions, conflict, insecurity and poverty. This is incompatible with the “Rising Africa Concept”. Therefore, the theme of the 2015/2016 budget, namely Peace, Stability and Prosperity is not only relevant for Namibia, but equally befitting for the entire African continent. When peace and stability prevail throughout the continent, then conflicts, urban migration or intra-African migration is minimized.
Conflicts and instability are not only an ugly feature in Africa today. But, what is happening in the middle East is also of great concern. Countries are being torn apart and people who lived together for centuries have become mortal enemies. The case in point is the worrying situation in Yemen and the surrounding areas. These tragic events occurring in the world are a warning to the rest of us to jealously guard our peace and stability.
In this context, I wish to congratulate the Hon. Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Finance, Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Economic Planning and their staff for the 2015/16 budget and a well thought-out theme.
REVIEW OF THE 2014/15 FINANCIAL YEAR INCLUDING ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONSTRAINTS
Honourable Chairperson of the Whole House Committee,
2014/15 was an eventful year! Today, southern Africa is at peace and Namibia is proud to be counted as among those that have made it possible. Further afield, when our sister countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were hit by the deadly Ebola epidemic, Namibia was among those that came to their aid by providing financial assistance. While the conflict in the Central African Republic is not fully resolved, the security situation in that country has improved. Namibia is among those African countries that heeded the cry for help from our brothers and sisters. Let me stress, that when we assist for the consolidation of peace and stability in other African countries, we are investing in our own peace, stability and security.
I am pleased to restate that Namibia is known as the baby of the United Nations. Hence, we were honoured to successfully coordinate the visit of the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon last year. During the visit, the Secretary General officially received the UN House donated by the government of Namibia thus, enabling all UN agencies to be housed in one building.
Namibia continued to engage her bilateral partners through different mechanisms including Joint Commissions of Cooperation. Due to the excellent relationship that exists between Namibia and other countries, we were able to successfully repatriate the remains of our fallen heroes and heroines from Angola and Zambia.
When our country is hit by drought other countries come to our aid. You may recall the years when food consignments were received from friendly countries. Of recent, we also received food consignment from the Federal Republic of Nigeria for which we are deeply grateful.
The increased offer of scholarships for Namibian to study in different countries of the world is a sign of our working bilateral relations. Similarly, cooperation both in economic and social sectors is growing. Namibia and Republic of Congo joint school in Loudima, officially opened by our two Presidents last year is one example of the effective bilateral cooperation and the promotion of African integration. There are 50 Namibian students at Loudima.
On 21 March 2015, about 2000 friends from around the globe converged in Windhoek to witness the Inauguration of our 3rd President and celebrate our Silver Jubilee with us.
All these put together create a momentum that we need to take advantage of as we seek to raise the regional and global standing of our country. Furthermore, as we continue to increase our diplomatic visibility, we have established 4 new diplomatic missions in Ghana, Congo Brazzaville, Senegal and Finland
While on this point, I wish to commend the Namibian young woman who transformed her tragedy into an inspiration and hope for others. I am talking about the 28-year old Johanna Ndamena Hamunyela who lost her dad to cancer at the age of 12. Today, she is putting Namibia on the map by having submitted her research on cancer to the world’s renowned University of Cambridge.
Hon. Chairperson of the Whole House Committee,
Among the issues I raised last year in my budget speech, was the management of our Foreign Policy. I am pleased to inform that last year, we successfully convened the 7th Heads of Mission Conference. At that Conference and for the first time, we invited all our Honorary Consuls from all around the world. We deliberated and adopted Guidelines governing the work of Honorary Consuls. This is important since the Honorary Consuls complement the work of our diplomatic missions. Furthermore, we finalized the Posting Policy that will improve transparency and efficiency in dispatching our diplomats to diplomatic missions. We have also created the Namibia Association of Former Ambassadors that was launched by the then Prime Minister, Dr. Hage G. Geingob. The Association will serve as a Think Tank for Namibia’s Foreign Policy. All these are tools at our disposal to effectively manage our Foreign Policy.
At the multilateral level, we continue to make a meaningful contribution to the international agenda and in finding solution to issues of concerned. As Chair and then member of the SADC Organ Troika we participated in the SADC Election Observer Missions (SEOM) in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana and Mauritius in the course of 2014, and Zambia in 2015. Namibia made financial contributions of four hundred eighty two thousand four hundred twenty US dollars ($482 420.00) towards SEOM operations.
I am pleased to inform this House that the political tension in Lesotho has been successfully resolved when elections under the close eye of SADC took place in that country in February 2015 and the new Prime Minister took office. Namibia together with other SADC member states played our part. Together with South Africa, the Chair of SADC Organ Troika we deployed police, military and diplomatic personnel to Lesotho and our efforts have not gone in vain. Ambassador Veiccoh Nghiwete who was the Assistant to H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa, who was the SADC Facilitator in Lesotho, has done a commendable job.
At the AU level, Namibia is a member of the Committee of 10 countries (well known as C10) that is given the mandate to lead the process of advocating the African Common Position (CAP) on the reform of the UN with particular attention to the UN Security Council. We are also a member of the AU committee that worked on African Common Position on post 2015 development agenda. Since last year, we are a member of the AU Peace and Security Council until April 2016.
Namibia continues to honour her financial obligations to international Organisation. An amount of one hundred fifty four thousand six hundred ninety six Euros (154 696 00) has been paid to the African Caribbean Pacific Group (ACP). Also an amount of (115,793.00) one hundred fifteen thousand seven hundred ninety three British Pounds has been paid to the commonwealth.
MOTIVATION FOR THE 2015/16 FINANCIAL YEAR
The proposed allocation for the 2015/16 financial year is N$936 159 000 (Nine hundred thirty six million, one hundred and fifty nine thousand Namibia Dollars)
16% or N$150 000 000 (one hundred and fifty million Namibia Dollars) of the total amount requested will be utilized for capital projects at our diplomatic missions and at headquarters. The projects for missions are all ongoing in the form of purchasing construction or renovation of our Chanceries, and Residences as well as maintenance of properties. Since independence, a total of 48 properties for use by our diplomatic missions were acquired. Of these, one (1) is under construction and eleven (11) have been renovated during 2014-2015 Financial Year.
In my speech last year, I indicated that the Ministry is in need of a befitting Headquarters. Negotiations to acquire land are at an advanced stage, and I am sure that in the next request, I will seek your support for the construction of a new building.
The remaining 84% or N$786 159 000 (seven hundred and eighty six million, one hundred and fifty nine thousand Namibian Dollars) of the total allocation will be utilized for the operational budget over the various programmes of the Ministry as follows:
Programme 1: Regional and Bilateral Affairs Department
An amount of N$19 898 000 (nineteen million eight hundred and ninety eight thousand Namibian Dollars) has been requested for this programme.
This programme aims at fostering bilateral relations between Namibia and our bilateral partners. It further aims to explore new areas of economic cooperation and trade. The programme is responsible for organizing and coordinating Joint Commissions of Cooperation as well as political and diplomatic consultations with other countries. Joint Commissions of Cooperation have addressed the most pressing needs and areas of priority as set out in our development goals. This programme is at the core of our Foreign Policy for everything we do abroad boils down to our relations with a given country. This amount is requested to expand our diplomatic presence and visibility in all the regions of the world. Furthermore, the programme implements the policy of economic diplomacy, promotes trade and attracts foreign direct investment through participation in international trade fairs and exhibitions, among others.
Programme 2: Multilateral Policy Co-ordination
An amount of N$60 678 000 (sixty million, six hundred and seventy eight thousand Namibian Dollars) has been allocated for this programme.
As I mentioned earlier, our bilateral and Multilateral relations impact on our success at SADC, SACU, UN, AU, Commonwealth, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), to mention but a few. Having strong bilateral and multilateral relations with other nations facilitates success at the multilateral fora. It is therefore, both pertinent and imperative that Namibia continues to enhance her stature internationally. Namibia will continue to participate effectively in fostering peace in Africa. Namibia is also expected to continue her active participation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions, Peace Building, mediations, post conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. We shall also continue to play an active part at the UN Human Rights Council.
Programme 3: Protocol and Consular Affairs
An amount of N$14,299,000.00 (Fourteen million, two hundred and ninety nine Namibian Dollars) is requested for this programme.
The programme is the medium of interaction between Namibia and Foreign Diplomatic Missions accredited to Namibia. It is charged with the responsibility to receive all high-ranking Foreign Government Guests visiting Namibia.
The programme is entrusted with the coordination and support of all official functions and ceremonies involving the Head of State, the First Lady, the Founding President, the former President, Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Speaker, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson, and Deputy Chairperson of the National Council and the Chief Justice. In addition, it renders protocol services to yourselves, when you travel abroad. For the benefit of new Honourable Members let me repeat the call I made last year: Should you be invited to state events in particular State Banquets, and, for one or other reasons you are not able to attend, please inform our protocol department in order for you to be removed from the invitees list for that event. Informing the Protocol Department will help to avoid wasting resources by spending so much even on the invitees who could not turn up.
Programme 4: Foreign Missions Representations
An amount of N$772 478 00 (seven hundred seventy two million, four hundred seventy eight thousand Namibian Dollars) has been allocated for this programme.
It’s critically important for Namibia to establish and maintain diplomatic visibility in all parts of the world. Hence, all our diplomatic missions are concurrently accredited. Let me reiterate that the objectives of the Missions include the promotion of Namibia’s national interest and the strengthening of relations with other countries, regional and international organisations to which they are accredited. Like in the previous year, I would like to point out and emphasize that this allocation has to be seen against the backdrop that its execution is heavily affected by the volatility of foreign exchange rates. Currently, Namibia has 30 Diplomatic Missions and 3 Consular Posts.
Programme 5: Coordination and Support Service
An amount of N$64 017 000 (sixty four million and seventeen thousand Namibian Dollars) has been allocated for this programme.
The purpose of this programme is to provide administrative support to the vote’s programmes, which include activities of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister’s Office and coordination thereof including Deputy Ministers, the Permanent Secretary and the Special Advisor. It will ensure proper and efficient management of financial and human resources, the implementation of policies as well as for capacity building for staff, the latter being one of our high priorities.
In summary, the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is for the success of our foreign policy objectives.
Let me borrow from the wisdom of Dr. Carlos Lopes, when making a presentation on the 9th April 2015, to the Executive Induction Seminar, he mentioned that Namibia’s geographic location has advantages and disadvantages; however, Namibia being the world capital of cheetahs, let us all rise and run like cheetahs to make Namibia stand high among the nations of the world.
At this point let me thank the rank and file members of SWAPO Party for nominating me, Namibian people for voting my Party un-reservedly and the three SWAPO Party Legacy Leaders namely, the Founding President Dr. Sam Nujoma, the second President Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba and our third President Dr. Hage Geingob for the confidence they placed in me, to serve in the Namibian executive uninterruptedly from the shadow cabinet to date. As for President Geingob, the double responsibilities he gave me, namely Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation cannot be taken for granted. The opportunity he has given me is highly appreciated. I shall do my best to live up to his trust. I am convinced, that under his guidance and the support of my colleagues in the two offices, working together as a team, we will achieve more.
Honourable Chairperson of the Whole House Committee,
I now submit for your consideration the budget request for Vote 07 amounting to N$936 159 000 (Nine hundred thirty six million, one hundred and fifty nine thousand Namibia Dollars).
I thank you