State House security questioned

31 January 2018 | International

It is “utterly irresponsible” to put foreign entities in charge of the construction and security systems of buildings such as State House, says local political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah.

Responding to international media reports about China's alleged spying on the African Union headquarters, which it had built as a “gift”, Kamwanyah said it came as no surprise. According to a Morocco World News article, an investigation conducted by Le Monde Afrique exposed the Chinese espionage efforts. It stated that for five years, computer servers were reaching a peak in data transfer activity between midnight and 02:00. A computer scientist noticed the strange happenings.The organisation's technical staff later discovered that the AU servers were all connected to servers located in Shanghai. It was reported that every night, the secrets of the AU were being backed up more than 8 000km away in China. The issue was reportedly picked up in January last year, compelling the AU to acquire its own servers and encrypt its communications. According to Le Monde, China offered to assist with the configuration of these servers, which the AU declined. Kamwanyah yesterday emphasised that certain things must be kept sacred, particularly a country's security.

“I am not saying they [China] did it. But we need to be able to do it ourselves. I even suspect the security of our State House is still manned by North Koreans because our people are not yet equipped to do it,” he said.

He pointed out that there are “no permanent friends in politics” although Namibia regards China as a friend. The North Korean Mansudae Overseas Projects constructed not just State House but also the Okahandja Military Museum, and the NDF's munitions factory, amongst others.

“First and foremost, these countries have their own interests; they come here for their economic and political interests. Entrusting them with our security is irresponsible and we should be concerned,” he warned.

Presidential affairs minister Frans Kapofi rejected Kamwanyah's suspicions, saying he is “anti-Namibian”.

“Any person who makes such destructive comments must come and show us. There is nothing like that. North Koreans are not manning our security,” he said angrily.

The minister of information, Tjekero Tweya, would not comment, saying he was on leave and was unaware of the media reports.

International relations permanent secretary Selma Ashipala-Musavyi yesterday said she had read the article but was yet to receive formal information and feedback.

She therefore declined to comment on the issue, saying she needed to acquaint herself with the facts.

State House was built by Mansudae Overseas Projects of North Korea, which was also building Namibia's military headquarters until it was sent packing because of United Nations sanctions.

The Chinese embassy in Namibia said it could only comment once it received an official response from China.