Namibia, China relations still intact

By Timo Shihepo

WINDHOEK – The Namibian government has said that the country’s relations with China are still sound despite government agencies issuing warnings about Chinese nationals, especially business people, who have been violating Namibian laws.

The Southern Times has seen critical government documents revealing how some Chinese are entering Namibia under false pretences, obtaining documents such as work permits and disappearing from the authorities’ radar.

Several individuals who were granted 12 months’ work permits have also disappeared without trace, but are believed to be residing in the country unlawfully.

But even those who are in the country legally have still been accused of disregarding the country’s laws, a situation which authorities described as “totally unacceptable”.

The Chinese are accused of paying employees between R300 and R900 and work without contracts, making them vulnerable to unfair dismissals.

This adds to the many Chinese who have been apprehended by the police for links to poaching.

This then prompted government to launch countrywide investigations where malpractices among Chinese, especially business people were detected.

The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation has admitted to The Southern Times that there are problems but that no one would be spared of scrutiny when it comes to the law, and that includes the Chinese.

There is, however, a general public consensus that government is reluctant to act on the Chinese for fear that this would jeopardise relations with one of its important international trade partners.

“Namibia is a sovereign state that is governed by the rule of law within the framework of its Constitution.

While Article 10 of the Namibian Constitution guarantees equality before the law, everybody within the borders of the country, including Chinese nationals, are expected to respect the laws of the country.

Therefore, there are no exemptions when it comes to the enforcement of the law,” says Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and Deputy Prime Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Nandi-Ndaitwah says relations between Namibia and China are still excellent and are characterised by mutual cooperation in the field of politics, economic trade, culture, education, infrastructure development, defence, and health and information exchanges.

Recently, however, some Chinese under the stewardship of the embassy have been convening meetings to address what they believe is unfair treatment from the police and the government in general.

It is also believed that the Chinese government has been keeping a close eye on what has been happening in Namibia. It is thought that this could result in a stand-off if not addressed soon.

Nandi-Ndaitwah, however, denies knowledge of any stand-off between the governments of Namibia and China.

She adds that the relations between Namibia and China are sound and have been growing stronger.

“Bilateral frameworks and platforms exist between Namibia and China to enhance consultations.

These frameworks and platforms raise issues of mutual concern, which are deliberated upon and addressed.”

The Namibian government is also accused of issuing Namibian diplomatic passports to Chinese living in Namibia. Nandi-Ndaitwah says like any other sovereign state, Namibia has its own laws and regulations governing the granting of diplomatic status.

“There are no Chinese nationals not employed by the Chinese Embassy who have been issued with Namibian diplomatic passports because even if they are not employed in the Chinese Embassy they are still Chinese, and they carry their own national identity documents,” she says.

The Chinese Embassy in Namibia had not responded to questions sent by the time of going to press.

March 2017
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