Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Domestic vs foreign policy

Namibia is at a stage where it must assert its domestic agenda on the international, simply because it is the only way the country can lure investments and trade that are beneficial to all Namibians. The country’s domestic policy should not be disjointed from the foreign one because it acts as a marketing tool for all Namibians who go abroad to represent the country on international platforms. Namibia is still at a stage where it considers itself to be a small fish when it comes to international affairs, yet Namibia’s contribution to the global economy as a result of the resources which originate from Namibia can catapult it to the highest of negotiation tables-of course provided that it is domestic policy is smart.

We need to ask ourselves if we really made the best use of the opportunity granted in 1990 to promote Namibia?  Since the White Paper on Foreign Policy was adopted in 2004, have we seen evidence that the economic diplomacy delivered the results we wanted?  Did we win the hearts and minds of respective audiences, to influence opinion (policy), to make a case for the benefit of the nation as well as engineer consensus and facilitate understanding among overseas publics?
After 26 years, Namibia cannot continue to be a country that attends international gatherings for the sake of being marked present.

The ethos of the Namibian foreign policy to date has been “a friend to all and an enemy to none  ….conflicts raging worldwide, is that logical ? Has a sense of nothingness to it…. If our diplomats were to sign performance agreements like the Executive, what would be items that would make it to that list and what the results be in 4 years? In its current format, Namibia’s domestic and foreign policies are pro-foreigners and anti-local, simply because the rules are so relaxed for foreigners to apparently lure them to come to Namibia. Well, it is high time we drop that shallow thinking because as much as we need investors to boost development in the country, investors also need our minerals to fill their pockets and develop their own countries.

So why then are we getting less for our own resources? Especially at a time when thousands continue to languish in poverty, does this mean we are constantly crying crocodile tears when we see people suffering?
The sad part about Namibia’s war against poverty is the fact that everyone knows very well that equal resource distribution is the way to defeat poverty, but apparently we do not know that.As long as our domestic policies make room only for some to access state resources, the war against poverty will continue emptying the public purse and it will outlive even those who have started it.
Locals struggle to compete against foreigners because they do not have the deep pockets, so why then does government expect locals to get to the level of these foreigners if separate policies are not created for locals? Locals, as much as they want to compete, start their battle for projects against foreigners from a disadvantaged position.

We need to know that the need exists for nations to convey an image to the rest of their world.  The 21st century brought to our tables a world that is new in a sense. A world which requires an approach where knowledge is key to achieve smart partnership on the globe. Namibia in the age of Harambee and requires a new standard of diplomacy, one that is responsive to the achievement of the country’s national development goals.  This new diplomacy demands a different skillset, technique and attitude than that found in traditional diplomacy.  Thus our focus should be centred on efforts geared to the public of another country using governments medium or affiliates to service policy goals.  They say that the only constant in life is change which begs the question whether our foreign policy, in an age of scarce resources and an upper middle income ranking is an effective tool to address funding and policy demands in health, education and the nations industrialisation agenda.

Our focus should be centred geared to the public of the country where diplomats serve using governments medium or affiliates to service policy goals. Our work should be focussed on engaging individuals and organisation to improve understanding and to strengthen influence in a manner consistent with Government medium and long term goals. Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma said in May 1990 “It is commonly said that every country, irrespective of the particular world to which it belongs, has two primary foreign policy objectives: to preserve its national security interest in and around the national territory, and to promote economic and social progress through interaction with other nations.”

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