Will trade or aid help Namibia’s socio-economic well-being? (Part II)

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The current trend of our resources being extracted, exploited and shipped out in raw format to EU countries and elsewhere is unacceptable. Imagine how many job opportunities would be created if we were to entirely process our beef here locally. Think of canning this beef and labelling, just to mention two – but the list is endless.  Think of fish, which can be cleaned and packaged if not processed into cans that can later be exported to the international markets, including in the EU countries. Think of how the local workforce will be responsible for doing packaging, labelling, etc. Think of how the sun can be transformed into the solar power to light up many parts of the country. Imagine how wires and ammunition could be transformed from copper to benefit local and international markets.

Once value is added to these commodities, they ordinarily should be ready to be consumed in the many sectors such as households, schools, hospitals, etc. A great number of our people will benefit from direct employment and their socio-economic well-being will be realised. The excess may be exported to countries including those in the EU region. And this is why beneficiating our resources and turning them into trade instruments will have a positive impact on our economy. It is, therefore, reasonable to argue that trade, as opposed to aid, is a blessing to the socio-economic well-being of our nation.

For trade to take place between Namibia and the international community, including the EU, agreements are a sine qua non. Namibia is part of the international community by virtue of Article 144 of Act No. 1 of 1990 (Constitution of the Republic of Namibia). When trade agreements between Namibia and other states are negotiated and entered into, it is of paramount importance that those representative(s) acting on our behalf bear in mind that Namibia comes first and foremost.

When agreements are entered into, those tasked with the responsibility to negotiate on our behalf must be cognisant of the fact that most of our people still live in abject poverty. The negotiator(s) must be mindful of the fact that any agreement(s) that does not help assuage the poverty situation in Namibia is a curse. The Namibian negotiator must be motivated by both the sense of patriotism and sovereignty first and foremost. This is the attitude that must be displayed at these negotiating tables.

Namibia should not allow herself to be coerced or bullied into agreements that do not translate into direct prosperity for her own people. These agreements should be made in good faith as per the pacta sunt servanda principle, as espoused in many international contracts and treaties. As can be seen, it is typical of developed nations to bulldoze weaker nations such as Namibia into signing, let alone performing, agreements under duress. This is unacceptable and any agreement that is entered into under duress, misrepresentation or fraud is void. Agreements, be they bilateral or multilateral in nature, must be exemplified in a context that is cognisant of self-determination and sovereignty.

It has become common knowledge that agreements between developing and developed countries are not negotiated in good faith due to the dominant behaviour of the latter. Although many appear to be done in the name of reciprocity, transparency is very important. The opposite is true as, in fact, some agreements may bear the hallmarks of neo-colonialism antics and thus hiding behind the concept of multilateralism.

This issue of listing Namibia, as a tax haven, is damaging Namibia’s good standing and reputation in doing business with the rest of the world. Who is helping who here in the real context? Is it the EU by way of providing aid to Namibia surely with conditions attached? Or is Namibia by way of enabling trade entering into fair, reasonable and plausible trade agreements and hence creating trade with the rest of the international community? In this context and given the abundance of her resources, Namibia has a lot to offer, which other states may just envy.

Endowed with precious resources that some countries may not have, Namibia needs to do her best to develop her local industry, as a matter of urgency. And this should be possible when it is done systematically. Aid will remain aid, as it will have conditions and strings attached to it. Our people must understand that there is just no free lunch in this world and, hence, whatever profession of developmental aid being advanced in any form, it will remain superficiality, and will not address the core issues of the socio-economic well-being of our people in the real sense. If a nation like Namibia should replace its resources and wait for aid in whatever format, it will do that at its own peril. 

* Jambo Shipanga, Communal Commentator, Windhoek

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