Poverty Eradication Minister Bishop Zephania Kameeta has cautioned against attacking Chinese expatriates working in Namibia on the grounds of race, The Villager can inform.
Speaking in Parliament on a heated debate around allegations of reckless granting of work permits to Chinese nationals, Kameeta said the debate should not be sparked with racist undertones as it would damage peace and stability. “All the Chinese are under judgment, whether they are men, women, children, old and young.
This kind of thing can be a threat to peace. Where there is no peace there is no existence, where there is peace there is development and con struction, peace is very much fragile. Pointing at certain and particular things and so much on the race will take us very much further back to the past which we did not want,” he said.
He made his cautioning statement at a time when DTA president McHenry Venaani accused government of being captured by the Chinese especially in the construction sector. Venaani said China has grown into an economic giant through what he labeled “good negotiations” in the background of “smart protectionism” which he alleged was lacking in the current administration.
“We have the Chinese and China as a country has captured our leadership in this country. The Chinese are smart negotiators globally and they have proved so. When dealing with smart negotiators you also need to have smart protectionism. But the Chinese have penetrated the ruling party SWAPO by giving them luxurious travels to China,” he said.
He said China was dealing with Namibia on an asymmetrical and non-bilateral level that did not create a win-win situation. “They are winning and we are losing all the way, and this is why they are capturing the fiscus by tax avoidance. It is because they are operating smarter. Our immigration laws need to be tightened. How do you allow Chinese builders and wheelbarrow pushers to get work permits in the country? It tells that they have a systematic advantage over us,” he told The Villager.
His government-capture remarks however drew outrage in parliament with the Speaker, Peter Katjavivi instructing him to withdraw his statement. Meanwhile the issue of race is also at the center stage on a number of poaching cases, corruption charges and questionable tender case reported by the media in which a number of Chinese are embroiled. Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Erastus Uutoni has however bashed at allegations from the opposition that the ministry dish permits to Chinese companies that bring low and semi-skilled workers.
“There is a perception that the (Immigration Selection) Board grant permits to semi-skilled expatriates, this could happen through misrepresentation of facts because individual applicants do not appear before the Board in person for interrogation,” said Uutoni.
A Chinese construction company, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group went to the point of dealing a heavy blow at government when it won a legal fight over a N$7billion tender for the expansion of Hosea Kutako International Airport.
The Chinese have also won a number of large tenders prompting public outrage. The Construction Industry Federation of Namibia has also raised concerns over this issue citing that in light of the tight fiscus, government would be better advised if it gave preferential treatment to locals first before foreign companies.