Friday 14 May 2021
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Will trade or aid help Namibia?

This article is motivated by the recent discussions (as being reported in the print media) to have taken place between our Head of State and the various heads of foreign missions to Namibia at the First House.  These discussions were premised on the alignment of EU’s development aid to Namibia’s fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP). The Namibian Newspaper reported that the meeting was aimed at taking stock of the type of aid Namibia has been receiving especially in the areas of education and agriculture.
During the aforesaid meeting, various issues such as the genocide, the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) as well as Namibia’s designation as a tax haven by the European Union (EU), were said to have been discussed.  First the EU was believed to be contemplating withdrawing aid and possibly impose sanctions on Namibia due to her being listed as a tax haven. Secondly, EU was understood to keep Namibia under the listing as long as the she had not acceded to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention. Another pertinent issue included Namibia’s handling of Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

In this article, I will argue on how these alleged economic threats  contradicts the doctrines of sovereignty and comity as provided for within the municipal and international law. I will also argue how Namibia as equal trades partner as opposed to the beneficiary of development aid, needs to align and  beneficiate her resources before they are exported as a means to create jobs and have the socio economic well-being of her people realised.  I will also expound the position of the state during the trade agreements to be mindful of and hence patriotic towards the needs of its citizenry. I will conclude by supporting the trade as opposed to the aid as a tool to development.
Established during 1961 and the OECD has expanded its membership ever since. OECD is a multilateralism convention of which 34 countries are parties to it. Fundamentally it aims to promote polices that will improve economic and social wellbeing of people around the globe. During 2000, the Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA) reported Namibia’s desire to join the relevant Multilateral Convention.  To date Namibia has not joined this multilateral convention and the status of its proposal for admission is not known.

These alleged threats are primarily not only worrisome but oblivious of the important bilateral and multilateral links Namibia has with the international community including the EU. To be crude yet factual, these alleged threats are repugnant with the sovereign ideals and principles of peaceful coexistence of nations upon which the principles of sovereignty should be recognised. In addition, they are incongruent with the doctrine of comity which prescribes its acceptance and recognition among the progressive (not necessarily civilized) among nations of the word.
What struck one the most, is that these alleged economic threats have disregarded  the perpetual  co-existence of the international community as espoused within general principles of international law, various conventions, treaties and practices. These same principles are also recognised in the preamble as well as in Article 140 of the Namibian Constitution. In terms of the doctrine of sovereignty all nations ought to be equal in relation to each other. Hence the big brother attitude by the EU should address itself by reflecting on this very doctrine of comity for all nations.

The sovereignty as provided for within the preamble of our constitution and recognised by the general principles of international law, conventions, practices et el -serves no purpose if it is just there for decoration purpose.  It needs an activation to help Namibia in her quest to implement her developmental objectives.  When negotiating any agreements, the Namibian State should be sentient to the fears, doubts but also with wishes, hopes and aspirations of all Namibians. In others she should be responsive to the socio economic status of her people first and foremost. This is the kind of thinking which should help her to translate her raw resources into useful commodities.  And to achieve this, the state must display first and foremost a sense of patriotism above all. A kind of negotiation that is motivated by self-development and self-interest, will not translate into something both tangible and tangible which would accrue benefits to the people in need.
With Namibia’s relatively small population, the inequality between the haves and the have nots, remains a major pain in her side. The inequality remains so despite abundant resources that she is endowed with. Although there is a scarcity of water in general due to the global climatic phenomena, agriculture remains the backbone of this great nation. Namibia needs to do is to develop her local industry as a matter of urgency.

Jambo Shipanga, Communal Commentator, Windhoek
Catch part two of this article next week.

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