Friday 18 June 2021
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Namibia’s North Korean connection

geingob (2)When North Korea’s multinational, Mansudae Overseas Projects, stepped into Namibia to construct the Heroes Acre, little did it know that its business adventure in Namibia would be cut short by the United Nations’ security arm.
In the Final report of the UN Security CouncilPanel of Experts submitted pursuant to resolution 2276(2016) of the United Nations, the panel recommends that the Committee designate Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies for having violated the resolutions, assisting in the evasion of sanctions by providing services and assistance related to the manufacture and maintenance of arms and related materiel, working on behalf of KOMID through construction of a munitions factory, and the transfer of bulk cash via its workers.
“The Panel recommends that Member States annul any contracts with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or its nationals concerning the direct or indirect supply or transfer of statues, or services related to the maintenance of statues,” states the report that was released on 27 February 2017.
Namibia has commissioned the most public works by Mansudae Overseas Projects in Africa.
These includes the Heroes’ Acre inaugurated August 2002, Okahandja Military Museum inaugurated 2004, State House of Namibia inaugurated 2008 and the Independence Memorial Museum. Namibia informed the Panel in July 2015 of the involvement of Mansudae in the construction of monuments and government buildings.
“Additionally, insurance documents show the company’s involvement in construction at military bases under Ministry of Defence contracts. The construction included the “UBM” centre at Leopard Valley military base, a new central office at the Tsmeb base, the Lafrenze building and the renovation of a guest house,” the report states.
The guest house contract stipulates that work will continue until February 2017.
The report also claims that Namibia informed the Panel that Mansudae had withdrawn United States dollars in cash from its account at a local Namibian bank for labourers to transport on their return to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“In January 2015, Mansudae requested the bank to pay $280,000(about N$3.3 million) to its 14 employees for “travel expenses”, which was divided into $20,000 increments for each individual to carry,” it announced.
Namibia announced in June 2016 that, further to resolution 2270 (2016), it had decided to terminate the services of KOMID and Mansudae, including the involvement of nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in current or future projects.
“The Panel requested confirmation of this termination and information on any repatriation of labourers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but has yet to receive a reply,” reads the report.
In June 2015, North Korea’s Foreign Affairs minister Ri Su Yong came to Namibia on a working visit.
During that visit, President Hage Geingob narrated Namibia’s relationship with the Asian state which dates back to Namibia’s pre-independence era.
With North Korea constantly facing an avalanche of criticism from the world’s superpowers for its continued interest in developing nuclear weapons, Geingob at the time assured his North Korean counterpart that such actions will not affect the bilateral relations between the two countries.“Of course there are new international developments under the United Nations Security Council resolution which we have to pay attention to, but it will not affect our bilateral relations because Namibia is sovereign state and can therefore can enter into agreements with any country,” said Geingob at the time.
The United Nations Security Council has adopted three major resolutions that sanction North Korea for continuing to develop its nuclear weapons program and call on Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner and refrain from ballistic missile tests. Last year International Relations and Cooperation minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah went on an official state visit to North Korea,
Her meetings with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and titular head of state Kim Jong-un focused on talks related to the development of “friendly and cooperative relations  and other issues of mutual concern,” state media outlet the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported at the time.
But the visit, which also included a reception and visits to prominent propaganda sites around Pyongyang, has drawn concern from those monitoring the implementation of UN sanctions designed to prevent military cooperation between North Korea and other countries.

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