Namibian president promises jobs

2010-03-21 22:32
A Namibian woman dances during the swearing in ceremony of President Hifikepunye Pohamba in Windhoek. (Brigitte Weidlich, AFP)

A Namibian woman dances during the swearing in ceremony of President Hifikepunye Pohamba in Windhoek. (Brigitte Weidlich, AFP)

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Windhoek - Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba was sworn in for a second and final term on Sunday, pledging to a crowd of thousands at a colourful event to create jobs and bring development to rural areas.

Pohamba took the oath dressed in a black suit and vowed to "uphold and defend the constitution of Namibia", in a ceremony attended by regional and international heads of states but boycotted by opposition politicians.

"I will protect the independence, sovereignty, territorial, spiritual and material resources of Namibia and ensure justice for all inhabitants of Namibia, so help me God," Pohamba said as the packed stadium of about 20 000 people erupted with ululations and applause.

In his inaugural speech, the 74-year-old president said his next five years in office would see more rural development, a cut in unemployment now at around 51%, and large-scale agriculture projects.

Employment

"I thank the voters who had confidence in me to elect me a second and last time last November, I accept the mandate with humility," Pohamba said.

"We will see that employment-creating projects are implemented in earnest," he said, adding that rice and grape farming would be expanded.

Also, "more land must be put under cultivation to increase volumes and diversity of crops," he said.

Pohamba announced he had reappointed Nahas Angula as prime minister and chosen former foreign affairs minister Marco Hausiku as deputy prime minister.

The remaining members of the cabinet were to be announced late on Sunday.

No-show

The event saw a military parade and entertainment by cultural groups, but also the no-show of 11 opposition politicians who had already boycotted their swearing in on Friday as new members of Parliament.

The politicians are awaiting the outcome of their appeal against a court's rejection of their demand for an audit of the results of November's election which gave Pohamba's South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) a landslide victory.

A court rejected the case last month on a technicality.

Swapo, which has been in power since 1990, won the general elections with more than 75% of the votes in a process declared fair by African observers.

His inauguration on Sunday coincided with Namibia's 20th anniversary of independence from apartheid-era South Africa in 1990 following a protracted war between Swapo and the South African defence force.

Economy

In Namibia presidents are restricted to two five-year terms in office.

Since independence the government has united a fragmented population, with about a dozen main ethnic groups making up the two million population, spread over an area larger than France.

Despite the new schools, clinics, hospitals, houses and roads, many Namibians feel disappointed by the economic gains since independence.

HIV has infected about 15% of adults. Its small economy still depends heavily on South Africa, with its currency pegged to the rand.

And the country has struggled to adapt to the globalised economy, still relying on exports of commodities, with mining accounting for about one-quarter of the nation's income.

The economy has grown steadily at an average of 4% a year, but economists say Namibia must become more competitive to curb poverty and unemployment.

Read more on:    swapo  |  hifikepunye pohamba  |  namibia  |  southern africa
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