Namibia’s foreign policy has done its part when it comes to development since its formulation in 2004, but its high time new foreign policy strategies are developed to attract more investment in order to boost the fight against poverty, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said. Addressing the local press yesterday about the upcoming Foreign Policy Review Conference, she also used the platform to reaffirm Namibia’s support towards Western Sahara, especially now that Morocco has indicated it wants to return into the African Union fold. The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation hold a week-long conference from the 25th to 29th of July 2016, and Nandi-Ndaitwah believes the time for new foreign policy strategies is now. “It[foreign policy] is serving us well but more needs to come out of it. Our focus now is poverty eradication, but as you know poverty can only be eradicated if you create jobs, and jobs can only be created if the economy is expanded. With this expansion comes the necessary investment,” she said.
She narrated how in 2004 the tourist arrival figures in Namibia stood at 13 000 per year prior to the formulation of the current policy, that figure now stands at over 1.2 million. “This shows the impact created by our foreign policy, the same goes for the high levels of foreign direct investment in the mining sector and the agricultural. Despite this figures, it is not enough, hence we cannot create the necessary jobs…we need to come up with new strategies so that we can also increase job creation,” she said. With Morocco having indicated its willingness to return to the African Union fold, Nandi-Ndaitwah made it clear that Namibia will continue its support towards the people of Sahwari Arab Democratic Republic to be accorded self-determination rights. Morocco formally withdrew from the OAU in 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a full member of the organisation. “Our foreign policy is guided by our Constitution. The issue of self-determination is fundamental, hence we keep calling for the implementation of relevant UN resolutions on Western Sahara, particularly the one calling for a referenda so that they[Sahrawi people] can decide what they want because they have demanded for Independence for long but they continue to be kept hostage,” she said.
She added: “Self-determination will continue to be high on our agenda. Our difference with Morocco is on self-determination, and even if we meet them we will tell them.” As for the policy conference, the deputy prime minister said the review of the foreign policy is to analyse the impact of global changes on domestic policies, reflect the new and emerging issues and identify strategic priorities of the country’s foreign policy. The opening of the conference will be done at the Windhoek Country Club Resort on Monday by President Hage Geingob and the following sessions will be held at NIPAM. She said various national, regional and international speakers that will inform the foreign policy outcome document. These consulting papers will provide some context for the review and set out a number of issues for consideration, she explained. Participants at the conference will include officials from Government, Parliament, Academia, Diplomatic Corps, and Civil Society, bilateral and multilateral partners.
As a reflection of the country’s history and its aspirations for the future the topics of presentation and discussion “will range from Poverty Eradication, Agriculture, Blue Economy, Trade and Investment, Multilateral and Bilateral Cooperation, Infrastructural Development, Land Reform, Foreign Service, Public Diplomacy, Cultural Diplomacy, Education, Gender and Youth Empowerment.” The conference will also feature the exhibition on the evolution of the Namibian Foreign Policy. “This exhibition will tell, pictures, the story of Namibia’s engagement with the SADC region, the African continent and the rest of the world since our national liberation struggle hitherto. The role of Namibia’s in SADC election observer missions and AU and UN peacekeeping operations will also be highlighted,” she said.