Pohamba Bemoans Namibia’s Classification

Visiting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has lauded President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s decision to step down from the presidency when his term expires next year, urging statesmen across the world to emulate the Namibian Head of State.

The UN chief, in the country to commission the United Nations House in Windhoek, also commended Namibia for wide-ranging liberties in areas such as press freedom, gender equality and environmental protection, amongst others.

Pohamba used the occasion to express his dissatisfaction with the UN’s classification of Namibia as a middle-income country – saying this is hurting the country economically.

However, Ban had nothing but praise for Namibia, especially the country’s democratic system and the manner in which Namibia has handled refugees who sought asylum in the country since independence.

The United Nations House was built by the Namibian government as a token of appreciation for the role the UN played in Namibia’s struggle for independence.

During the official talks, Pohamba expressed Namibia’s support to the UN. He also told Ban that Namibia expects the upcoming 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to generate momentum in the negotiations towards the reform of the UN, especially its Security Council.

“We are aware that this process is in the hands of member states. However, you would agree with me that the process has been rather long and cumbersome,” Pohamba said.

“I therefore wish to encourage Your Excellency, to continue to use your good office to influence this process towards making the Security Council more representative and democratic, and therefore, better placed to maintain international peace and security.” Ban, who is accompanied by his wife Ban Soon-Taek, congratulated Namibia for promoting press freedom, gender equality, environmental sustainability and good socio-economic policies, as well as for the democratic systems it has put in place.

The South Korean diplomat, who is the fourth UN secretary general to visit Namibia since 1974, said Pohamba’s decision to step down as president should be emulated by statesmen around the globe.

“We also commend your country for helping to reduce the refugee population in Namibia from 30 000 in the early 90s to only 3 000 today,” Ban said.

“The United Nations will always be with the people of Namibia as well as help to facilitate development and socio-economic programmes. I hope this positive trend will continue and I hope the elections set for November will be fair, credible and transparent.” Pohamba used the occasion to express his frustrations over Namibia’s classification as a middle-class country, This, the President said, is hampering government from improving the living conditions of its people. Ban did not make any comment on the matter.

“Our efforts towards improving the living conditions of our people are frustrated by Namibia’s classification as an upper middle-income country on the basis of the per capita income only,” said Pohamba.

“We kept talking about the reality on the ground and that the status given to Namibia is not based on the reality on the ground but nothing is being done. We should not be an upper middle-income country but rather on the level where most African countries are,” said the President.

Pohamba said the country was classified as an upper middle-income country because “the minority communities are extremely rich while the majority are extremely poor”.

According to Pohamba: “Given our historical apartheid colonialism, which enforced segregation and inequality in our society, the per capita income is not a true reflection of the socio-economic reality, as it does not take into account the skewed income distribution inherited from the past.”

“It seems no one understands us, despite the fact that the United Nations has representatives in the country who see the reality on the ground. We have very poor people and I hope one day the United Nations system can assist us, especially when they receive recommendations from their people on the ground.”

Pohamba also said Namibia’s funding of the new UN office in Windhoek should not fuel perceptions that the country is well off.

“We just took money from our meagre resources to build it in appreciation for what the United Nations has done for this country,” he explained.

Source : New Era