The manner in which Namibia handles its land resettlement programme, housing question and poverty alleviation will determine whether the country could fall into a cycle of mass demonstrations and public uprisings, or so-called colour revolutions.
These, according to Brigadier General Paul Nathinge of the Namibian Defence Forces, make Namibia vulnerable to man-made disasters, including external aggression. Nathinge who spoke at the Namibia Foreign Policy Review underway in the capital, stressed that mass demonstrations are breeding grounds for external influences.
“Namibia is experiencing a serious problem associated with land in terms of housing and resettlement,” Nathinge noted. “The majority of the population are for the expropriation of the white-owned farms, which are believed to have been forcefully acquired by the colonisers during the colonial period, citing that the government’s willing seller–willing buyer programme was not yielding meaningful results.”
“There is also the issue of the government’s inability to resolve the housing problem for the middle class and poor in urban centres, which gave birth to the Affirmative Repositioning movement,” he said. Nathinge added that there are increasing calls by individuals and organised groups for government to prioritise poverty alleviation and housing above other programmes.
He said these, “coupled with allegations of rampant corruption and favouritism” in government can lead to mass demonstrations against the government. “Mass demonstrations or colour revolutions, as witnessed elsewhere are breeding grounds for external influences. What makes colour revolutions more dangerous is that masses are mobilised through the use of cyberspace, where information is spread very fast resulting in prompt response.”
Nathinge is of the opinion that Namibia’s foreign policy posture irks some nations, especially its relations with states that are generally regarded as adversaries of the West. According to him, the majority of these states are those that supported Namibia during its anti-colonial war and struggle for independence.
“As a way of paying back, Namibia has continued to foster warm relations and cooperation with them. At the moment, we are faced with the case of North Korea, whereby the international community is being castigated to make an issue against Namibia out of nothing. These bullying tactics have been used elsewhere in history resulting in instigations for regime change.”
He said Namibia’s abundant natural resources have led to a renewed competition for control by major economies. Nathinge explained that some African countries with abundant resources have deliberately been destabilised to allow the plundering with impunity of their resources by conglomerates from developed countries.
He said developed countries also hope to establish military and other installations in countries in strategic locations and Namibia’s geographical location makes her suitable for such ventures. “These, therefore, make Namibia a candidate for both overt and covert aggression as major powers strive to exert their influence over Namibia’s administration in order to further their strategic interests.”
He then emphasised the importance of securing Namibia’s air and maritime space, as well its borders, due to the country’s geographical and population characteristics, as well the threat of terrorists who pose as casual visitors.
Viewed in terms of its size in relation to its population with 820 000 km land surface and just over 2,2 million people Namibia is very sparsely populated. Also, its weather patterns, climate and physical features make some parts of the country uninhabitable and some more populated than others.
“History has taught us that foreign mission offices are essential targets for terrorists, as happened in Kenya and Tanzania in 2008,” Nathinge explained. “The tourism industry can easily be taken advantage of by terrorists who pose as genuine visitors when in fact they are harbouring ill intentions against the State,” he said.
According to Nathinge, Namibia is working hard to ensure tight security along its borders and airspace. “The challenge is further compounded by Namibia’s other various vulnerabilities… these include the porous border, huge land surface with unoccupied areas, large airspace and maritime space especially its long coastline,” he noted.
Namibia has 1 200km of coastline and its borders with Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa measure up to 3 500 km.