Namibians question Chinese money to Nam

Namibians have come out to question a US$60 billion pledge in financing made to Africa’s development agenda, as African leaders flock back from the high profile China-Africa summit held a few days ago.  

These are said to be in the form of assistance, investment and loans, over and above a provision of 50 000 government scholarships, 50 000 training opportunities and invitation of 2 000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.

According to Xi, the total sum will include US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, US$20 billion in credit lines, US$10 billion for "development financing" and US$5 billion to buy imports from Africa.

 Namibia has also pushed its own begging bowel for N$10 billion in the next five years to fund state projects, including the upgrading of the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek.

 

Yet local experts and politicians have bashed government for being secretive on the purpose and consequences of these monies to the economy as far as how China will benefit in return.

Prolific writer and political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanya said these promises should be understood to be merely verbal and that it is not clear whether such monies will be eventually handed over.

 

“So it’s a very vague statement although it’s a promise and we also don’t know on what they are going to spend that money. We don’t know whether African countries have defined what they are going to use that money for.”

“There are those that have said they want to use it for infrastructure development but that does not mean that when we have all this infrastructure the wealth will transfer to ordinary people on the ground. So we have to be a little bit careful,” he cautioned. 

The problem however is that China has a coherent strategic policy on Africa as well as what they want to benefit, yet the same can not be said for Africa, he said.

“The problem is when we talk of Africa we are not talking of one country. China is one country. Yet African leaders do not have a common agenda in terms of how to participate in the China-Africa relationship and I think that has already a problem. African countries are entering into this relationship based on individual interests,” said the columnist. 

Secretary general for the official opposition, Nico Smit came out to criticise how the uptake of Chinese money will pile up on debt to the detriment of the next generation.

“What is really worrisome is, for what is this money meant? Is that to balance the budget? Is that for increasing salaries for the civil service in light of next year’s election to vote again for Swapo? Is it to complete the capital projects that are half built?”

He also wants to know if the money will be injected into the private sector to get more people back into jobs and get the economy back onto its feet.

 

“It’s highly unacceptable for government not to inform the people. We have the right to know what is going on. We are indebting our youth by borrowing more and more. We will not be able to pay that money back in our life time. I don’t know how they are going to survive and run this country,” he lamented.

 

Smit warned that the leadership is running the economy into a debt-cycle when debt is already out of balance.

On the other hand, Kamwanya has been on record, during the course of the summit, questioning how come one country had succeeded to drag an entire continent into its friend-zone.

He agrees that China was whipping Africa into line to shift the global balance of power in its favour.

“China has worked on that Africa policy for many years and they want to reposition themselves in the world and have a majority of African countries on their side. It has never happened in the history of human kind that one country has the power to summon about 52 countries and meet one country. That shows how powerful China is and how strategically they are working.”

He has also frowned at the Chinese model of unleashing its own State Owned Enterprises to run the same projects they would have funded, much to the exclusion of locals.  

“It is not a sustainable model for Africa,” he remarked.

 

Deputy Secretary General for Nudo, Vetaruhe Kandorozu is cynical on whether at all the money will be put to good use.

He shared Smit’s sentiment that the Chinese trip is timely for a Swapo party seeking to fill its pockets for next year’s election campaigns

“When we get this money and we put it to capital projects, it’s still the Chinese that are coming to do the work and the ministry of immigration will offer permits for the Chinese to come and push wheel-barrows,” he said. 

Instead of handing over the airport job to the Chinese, he submitted that resorting the Turkish model was more reasonable.

 

“We have to be careful that as we allow the Chinese in, if what we are hearing about Zambia is true, then we will be losing our Namport very soon,” he said.  

Meanwhile, the Chinese president also promised to share development practices with Africa and setting up workshops for the provision of vocational training.

This will be topped by what he called a tailor made programme to train 1 000 “high caliber” Africans.