…As Namibia seeks to strengthen ties with neighbors
There has been questions raised over the years regarding Namibia’s foreign policy making process more interestingly, the country’s non-aligned stance on an avalanche of international issues has come under question.
After the foreign policy review conference last year, government maintains that Namibia will remain a friend to all.
The foreign policy review was convened mainly to review the 2004 White Paper – which was necessitated by change of international relations pillars and, both domestic and international fronts.
“We are a friend to all and an enemy to none, except where our sovereignty is challenged” and it is “important to adjust to changing times while not compromising on principle, for a principle half compromised is a principle compromised”, are the words of President Hage upon endorsing the revised policy on international relations and cooperation.
In the revised Namibia’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation, seen by The Patriot, Namibia seeks to promote its values and pursue its national interest beyond the borders of the country.
Geingob believes that Namibia’s foreign policy should be “embedded in the doctrine of Pan-Africanism”.
“It[foreign policy] should take into consideration the emergence of a new Africa or rising Africa, where those who come into power through coup d’états are ostracised and where leaders retire in dignity,” say the President in the revised policy adding that the present day Africa is espoused in the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).
Geingob goes on to say: “It is therefore pertinent that our African brothers and sisters’ graduates from mere solidarity to economic relationship. As Africans, it is important that we remain intellectually honest about our challenges while countering the negativity of Afro-pessimism.”
Echoing the words of Geingob, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (MIRCO) Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said when the Namibia first adopted its foreign policy at independence, most of the current topical issues did not feature.
“Many issues including environment, blue economy, property, human trafficking, terrorism, piracy and cybercrime did not feature prominently on the global agenda. Today, these issues have become global priorities and as they transcend national borders and thus require collective efforts to address them,” says Nandi-Ndaitwah in support of the revised foreign policy which seeks to address modern challenges, both local and international head-on.
A foreign policy is defined as a self-interest strategy chosen by states to safeguard their national interest and achieve goals within its international relational.
Furthermore, the revised dossier shows that Namibia focuses on realigning the current national priorities and programmes in its quest to bring about national prosperity.
“Therefore, the declaration of an all-out war against poverty is the path towards prosperity which complements our National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
The policy also identified priority areas which lay the basis for Namibia to become economically competitive and a respectable and trusted member of the international community,” further states Nandi-Ndaitwah.
There are two principal guidelines that should govern policy making which led to the convening of a Foreign Policy Review Conference last year.
The first, is the constitution. The supreme law of the land vests foreign policy making in national government, particularly the executive. Although it is the leader, the executive doesn’t have wholesale exclusive control.
Some diplomatic engagements and disengagement such as signing of treaties, for example the Rome Statute, require the approval of parliament. In addition, Parliament has to be informed when the government dispatches peace-keeping troops to fulfill international obligations.
The regions, cities and other state entities are not barred from engaging with their counterparts around the world on cultural exchanges, information sharing, investments and trade opportunities among other things. Indeed, there has been a number of foreign visits over the years by mayors and premiers who have negotiated investment deals and other exchanges.
In some instances, cities or provinces are best placed to handle certain international arrangements.
The second guide is cooperative governance. Various entities and spheres of government are required by law to cooperate with one another in the interest of the Republic and its people. This is to be found in the constitution itself, legislation, policy instruments and court judgments.
But the questions arise: how cooperative is our foreign policy making at a domestic level? To what extent are cities and provinces involved in shaping our foreign policy? Are there mechanisms for the mayors and premiers to engage directly with the national executive on foreign policy issues in the interest of their regions?
These questions can be ignored easily in circumstances where all spheres of government are governed by a one political party because we are, in the main, a unitary state. In such a scenario, political party resolutions invariably become government policy with little or no contention. But even in this scenario, there has been instances where government delegations from various spheres of government and state entities would be shocked to meet each other in another country.
As officials enjoy the perks of public office, including per diem and other allowances, they are too eager to explore the world. Coordination and extracting value for money in foreign visits are an irritation to overzealous officials who behave more like tourists than officials dispatched to represent the Republic.
In essence, the objectives of Namibia’s foreign policy are to:
- Safeguard Namibia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity;
- Promote Namibia’s economic growth and development;
- Foster international peace, security and regional harmony through active support for collective initiatives and effective multilateralism;
- Build a positive image of Namibia abroad, through efforts with other agencies of the government;
- Protect and assist Namibians in the diaspora, including students and other nationals living or visiting other countries; and
- Optimise a modern and flexible diplomatic apparatus that can implement Namibia’s Foreign on International Relations and Cooperation.
Additional reporting by News24