THIS week, China hosted several African leaders, including President Hage Geingob who is also the SADC chair. The Asian giant pledged US$60 billion (about N$865 billion) in infrastructure development loans and investments in Africa, strengthening its grip on the continent in a show of financial firepower and strategic intent.
While the African leaders have welcomed the Chinese billions, critics have labelled China’s “goodwill” as “debt colonialism” as it was making loans available to nations that it knew very well did not have the capacity to repay them. The common assumption is that China would most likely use the debt as leverage to secure cheap raw materials and have its companies get preference in strategic infrastructural projects on the continent.
In view of all this Chinese generosity, there is a need for Namibia to carefully guard our sovereignty and not allow any form of neo-colonialism on our country. While we welcome the much-needed investment in infrastructure projects, we cannot allow our debt to continue escalating to a point that we cannot repay it. Such a situation would compromise our sovereingnty as those bankrolling us may end up dictating certain terms to us.
We certainly need to question the true motives of our Chinese friends’ foreign policy objectives and examine the threats to our sovereignty. Namibia has inked several multi-million dollar infrastructure deals with China, which include agreements for the construction of a new Hosea Kutako Airport, roads construction and tourism projects.
Sooner or later whatever money we borrow or we are given in kind, will have to be repaid in one way or another. Indeed Namibia has attractive and sort after natural resources, such as uranium and diamonds, but we have to maintain control over how we use these resources or how we trade these resources and to who we trade them.
President Geingob must be commended for making it clear to our Chinese comrades that although we welcome their financial assistance, Namibia must not be a puppet of anyone.
This week Geingob told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, in his address at the Roundtable Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, that Namibia welcomed China’s promise not to interfere in the internal affairs of the African countries the Asian giant was aiding.
China has set what it terms the “five-no” approach when dealing with African countries. This entails no interference in the countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in internal affairs; no imposition of China’s will; no attachment of political strings to assistance and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
Infrastructure finance from China is readily available, especially for countries like Namibia that have long-standing good relationships with the Asian country and the aid is highly addictive. China has become the saviour for our infrusturcture development programmes, but we need to guard against concentrating our debt in the hands of one lender.
Despite China’s reinsurance our leaders need to guard against possible recolonisation of Namibia, which may be brought about by our excessive borrowing and failure to service our debts.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015