Saturday 17 April 2021
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Time for a robust foreign policy regime

Following a week of intense deliberations around the country’s potential foreign policy, government now has to consolidate input given by experts in various fields and incorporate it into the country’s foreign policy.
For Government, the principle of non-alignment has been the order of the day when it comes to choosing sides on international affairs and this has received a tongue-lashing from sectors of the country for its habitual tendency of abstaining when it comes to voting on international affairs. In fact, Government still believes the policy of “Enemy to none and friend to all” is applicable, but in today’s world where major development partners support only those who openly state their allegiance, Namibia might soon find itself in a catch-22 situation.
Government has for years sat idly while foreigners looted the country’s resources at the expense of hundreds of thousands of impoverished Namibians. Namibians believe it is time for a foreign policy that ensures that locals enjoy the fruits of the country’s resources instead of the current trend whereby minerals are shipped out of the country in hordes or only being enjoyed by an elite few.
The country’s foreign policy is seen as skewed in favour of foreigners, and President Hage Geingob made it clear that Namibia’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation must serve its domestic interests when he opened the review conference last week.
“Times are changing quickly and we need to adapt to these changes with the same speed. These days, as Africans, we are talking of the second phase of the struggle; the struggle for economic emancipation. Our diplomacy must also enter this second phase. Diplomacy should not only reflect our fears, but also our aspirations,” Geingob said.
After 26 years of independence, Namibia has run out of excuses as to why it cannot win the war against poverty, especially considering the abundance of natural resources in the country and the small size of the population. Analysts have indicated that the war against poverty can only be won through the formulation of a foreign policy that is purely beneficial to Namibia.
He further stated: “The new world is indeed a scary place but it is also a place where there are many opportunities. We need to understand what those opportunities are for a small country like Namibia and utilise modern tools to facilitate our developmental aspirations.” According to Geingob, Namibia’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation should be embedded in the doctrine of Pan-Africanism, as espoused by some of the founding Pan-Africanist philosophers such as Sylvester Williams, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere and Sam Nujoma. “Our Policy on International Relations and Cooperation should also take into consideration what I refer to as the New Africa. The New Africa is an Africa where coups d’état are no longer tolerated, where leaders retire in dignity, and an Africa that reflects its true narrative. In essence, the New Africa is the Africa We Want, as espoused in Agenda 2063 of the African Union,” he said.
Geingob also stressed the need for diplomats to engage private sector players abroad. “Nothing prevents you from organising inward or outward trade and investment missions. Here I would like to single out our mission in the United States, which over the past few years has been successful in arranging trade and investment events in the US and facilitating numerous US business and investment visits to Namibia,” he said.
“I encourage other missions to emulate this excellent example. Recently, we had an excellent experience in business-to-business interaction during my State visit to Botswana,” he recalled. Geingob said he would like a trade and investment event to be incorporated in the programme whenever he goes abroad. “I expect to see more trade and investment facilitation from all our missions, especially from our main trading partners, like South Africa.” “It is crucial that our Policy on International Relations and Cooperation pays special attention to the promotion of foreign investment through win-win partnerships. Economic diplomacy needs to be employed in order to connect investment opportunities with investors with an aim to finance our developmental objectives.”

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