President unaware of China’s naval base plans

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Windhoek

President Hage Geingob has denied knowledge of any plans by the Chinese to set up a naval base in Namibia – a rumour that Western nations have followed with keen interest.

In an interview on BBC’s HARDTalk, President Geingob said he is not aware of the existence of any request by the Chinese authorities to set up a naval base along the Namibian coast, as widely reported in the local and international press.

A naval base (military port) is a military base, where warships and naval ships are deployed when they have no mission at sea or want to restock.

During the BBC interview yesterday, Geingob was pressed hard on the naval base allegations, among a host of other topics. “Do not bring in China into your ideological problems between China and your beliefs. If the Chinese come to us with a proposal, like everyone else does…

Americans asked for the same thing, we did not decide on any of them,” he said.
Asked whether Namibia would, ideally, allow China to set up a naval base in the country, Geingob said: “If Cabinet and parliament decides, but we are not there yet, you are jumping the gun… I do not know anything about such a proposal. It never came to me, maybe to the former president [Hifikepunye Pohamba].”

Both China and Namibia have repeatedly denied that they plan to set up a naval base in the country, after reports in this regard surfaced towards the end of 2014.

HARDTalk host Sarah Montague pressed Geingob on whether Namibia would accept a proposal from China to establish a naval base in Namibia if such request were to be made in the future.
“If they want to do it in a sovereign country like Namibia, how does that concern you?” the president replied. “That is for Namibians to decide, but I can assure you that there will be no secret deals. It is my country… and it does not affect you.”

Geingob was also interviewed on the state of poverty in the country and how his government intends to arrest it, the achievements of the poverty eradication ministry so far, and how the land issue is being addressed.
During the 24-minute interview Geingob also dismissed claims that the government is planning to introduce a universal solidarity tax.

“We did not say solidarity tax, we are looking at the disparity which you greatly talked about, saying we are one of the most unequal countries, so it is a thing of how to narrow that gap,” he explained.
He said there is a need to counter the inequalities plaguing the country, adding that: “One of the ideas is that we must share. Namibians must not be greedy. People must contribute voluntarily.
“We will introduce a wealth solidarity tax if Cabinet approves it,” he further said.

Government in October announced that it plans to introduce a solidarity tax in the 2016/17 budget that would compel every income-generating citizen above a certain threshold to make a contribution towards a fund earmarked for poverty eradication.

Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein said at the time that government aims to rake in an additional N$600 million a year once the so-called solidarity tax is introduced.

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