Whether state visits need to be shorter and with a smaller entourage, Harambee needs to go international in order to prosper. The prosperity plan running on the slogan ‘no one should be left out’ contains a chapter specifically dedicated to International Relations and cooperation that is summarily focused on ensuring that Namibia continues to be a respectable and trusted member of the International community by honouring its obligations and fostering international support that will translate the country’s political independence into economic independence. In order for this to become a reality, I dare say our President needs to be spearheading efforts in this direction.
Namibia as a developing country needs to prioritise trade and investment with strategic international partners.
Admittedly we do have Namibian foreign missions existing solely to fulfil this particular function, however the office of the President carries more muscle in the long term when it comes to international affairs of any country.
For illustrative purposes one can liken state visits to a business. In order to attract investors, potential partners and sell products and service, businessmen and women globally can vouch for the need to pitch and profitably sell their products or services. Harambee needs to sell internationally aswel outside of local efforts and I for one commend our head of states for at least going out to pitch Namibia. The President has made numerous calls to the international community to support Namibia in its fight against poverty.
It suffice that on top of that, his office needs to engage world leaders and economic partners directly and vigorously hence my scepticism towards the furore on the Presidents travels in the past weeks ranging from exasperation that the state visits came about on the eve of the Fitch ratings that downgraded our Economic Outlook from stable to negative to teachers voting to strike for 8% salary increase and not to forget claims that the alleged money that will be used for his travels together with his entourage is at the expense of the tax payer . However true these sentiments might be in isolation as pressing issues that government needs to address, point remains that State visits by all politicians and not just Presidents alone, are key for any country’s bilateral relations.
I am not oblivious to the challenges we face as a country and I do agree that we have a long way to go in order for no one to be left out. However, we can only get there when our leaders act on their promises to deliver.
That our President is out of the country on state visits for twenty-four days in the USA is well in accordance with his functions as a democratically elected President He is not the first nor the last President of Namibia (or anywhere else in the world really) who will travel on state business. Perhaps what makes ours unique is the entourage of Ministers that travelled with him, however he made it clear that they are travelling on a need basis for the purpose of bilateral relations and for that we can hold them accountable upon their return.
Rakkel Andreas is an MA European and International Studies graduate from the Centre International de Formation Européen (CIFE) in Nice-France as well as BA in Media Studies and Political Science from the University of Namibia. The viewpoints expressed by the author are inspired by her thesis titled “The influence of German Political identity on its foreign policy: An analysis on the special case of Namibia”.