It must be win-win, Mr Ambassador - Venaani

12 February 2019 | International

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says there is a need for an overhaul of China-Namibia relations, so that Namibia benefits as an equal trading partner.

Venaani said this during a meeting yesterday with China's ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming.

He said Sino-Africa cooperation should also be an improvement of the old International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan scheme, which weakened African economies instead of strengthening them.

“When we speak of a win-win situation the structures of African economies is so badly shaped, and China, which speaks of socialism, must help African economies to rebalance the fundamentals of their economics,” Venaani said.

His biggest concern is that Africa, which is endowed with sought-after raw minerals that are exported, only accounts for a fraction of the world's trade.

“If you look at the world trade volumes, which is US$1.26 trillion, out of this Africa only trades with the world for N$56 billion. This gives us a stark reality that the continent with mineral resources lags behind in terms of world trades, because of the structures of our economies. We need to create benefits,” he said.

Venaani added that Namibia and the rest of Africa cannot afford not to trade with China, but these agreements fail to address the “bread and butter” issues which stimulate economies.

“The loan agreements are very badly structured; they are structured in a very negative way in which it repossesses state assets. If you falter, you have to lose. These are bad loans. We don't want to see a situation where loans are linked to our natural assets, because we have a generation we have to bequeath our natural resources to,” said Venaani.

Zhang asked for yesterday's meeting to update Venaani on the current relationship between China and Namibia.

He said it was important for opposition party leaders to understand China's role in support of Namibia.

“I keep emphasising that our cornerstone and our foreign policy is no interference in the internal affairs of any country, including Namibia. So I hope the media understands it is purely a courtesy call,” Zhang said.

He said there is a need to encourage Namibians to export more beef to China and emphasised the need to modernise the agriculture sector in order to create more jobs for locals.

He also shared with Venaani the importance of the state visits to China by President Hage Geingob, adding that China has no hidden agenda.

“Everyone must understand the real, right picture of China-Namibia relations. China remains a strong reliable partner for economic social development after independence until today. We have an open agenda, as a friend, a sincere brother and sister of Namibia and Africa. We should support you now because we have developed,” Zhang added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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