WINDHOEK, 06 APR – Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein has rubbished claims that China is on a crusade to “recolonise” Namibia, and by extension Africa through the provision of loans.
Speaking on Thursday at a media briefing on President Hage Geingob’s recent State visit to China, Schlettwein said China was not imposing itself on Namibia.
He said whatever agreement is or will be entered into by the two countries will be done by a responsible government, on a win-win basis.
The minister said even during the official visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear that he “is not imposing China on Namibia to get access to the raw materials”.
He said unlike the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, China will not dictate what Namibia has do with loans obtained from it.
“China says it is our business what we do with our money. They are just offering it, because they see there is a need for development,” Schlettwein added.
He stressed that it was wrong to assert that China is re-colonising Africa because it never colonised Africa.
“We know that China never colonised Africa. So, recolonising cannot be right. It never colonised in the first place,” he emphasised.
Schlettwein was responding to claims by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who cautioned African countries against taking Chinese loans.
“It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty,” Tillerson was quoted by the South China Morning Post recently.
To this claim, Schlettwein said: “[Tillerson] is a person who has his main mandate to fend for the interests of the United States of America, and it may be out of that perspective that he made the statement that it is not in favour of them if developing countries take up loans from China”.
Echoing similar sentiments, Attorney-General Albert Kawana said African countries are no longer “minors” to be told what to and what not to do.
“Western countries cannot teach us what we want. We are not minors anymore. It is modern times now. We are equal. When we go to China, we are treated as equals. Nobody must come here and lecture us,” said Kawana.
He added that loans from the IMF and World Bank have brought nothing but poverty and misery to developing nations.
Over the years, China has pumped billions into infrastructure projects in Africa. However, critics say there is often little upside for local economies as Chinese firms and labour build the roads and rails in these countries.