President Hage Geingob has expressed deep empathy and concern to his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa over the ongoing violence in that country, triggered by protests against the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.
Geingob said during a visit by South African international relations minister Naledi Pandor yesterday that Namibia is badly affected by the ongoing violence in that country.
“We are truly affected by the situation in South Africa as we transport most of our products from there, including oxygen, that is critical during this pandemic,” he said.
Geingob added that the actions taken by the protesters are not a solution to the problem, hence he commiserated with Ramaphosa.
“I have sent my sympathy to my brother president Ramaphosa yesterday (Tuesday).
The situation is bad, and looting is not the way to solve problems. There is poverty everywhere, but just to destroy properties is not a solution,” he stated. The unfolding situation has claimed over 70 lives, while the defence force has been deployed in hotspot areas to tackle the escalating violence.
“The situation is really bad. People lost their lives and properties in the process. With the deployment of the defence force, calm and stability will be restored,” said Pandor during the courtesy call at State House yesterday.
Meanwhile, speaking to New Era yesterday, political commentator Gerson Sindano, who is also a lecturer in Rhetorical Studies and English at the University of Namibia (Unam), said the current political situation in South Africa is a wake-up call for Namibia to start soul-searching for its own political, economic and social stability, going forward. As a country, Namibia should learn that a pragmatic approach to the country’s politics and wisdom should be the guiding moral compass in any decision-making, Sindano reasoned. He also feels the biggest lessons that Namibia can take from the unrest in South Africa is to promote agriculture, invest in manufacturing as well as promote vocational education to become self-reliant rather than depend on South Africa for almost everything. “Tribalism has always been a thorn in the flesh for South Africa, with the Zulus treating KwaZulu-Natal as an autonomous province. Namibia must find a smart way to deal with tribal issues. Due to the fact that Namibia’s economy is inextricably linked to South Africa, it only makes sense for the Namibian leadership to address these issues before they get out of hand”, he urged. In 2018, then minister of trade and industrialisation Tjekero Tweya famously said Namibia does not even produce toothpicks locally.
Another political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said there are many lessons to be drawn from the unrest in South Africa. “First, there is a need to ring-fence our economy against unrest and instabilities by reducing our reliance on other countries. We have to produce our own goods and services, instead of importing them,” he noted. Kamwanyah said Namibia should also view what is happening in South Africa within the context of vulnerabilities due to poverty and economic inequality. “The looting and violence to some extent is an expression of hopelessness and frustration due to the daily struggles and suffering. Poverty and economic inequality are ticking time- bombs that need to be addressed, otherwise it will create a situation like what is happening in South Africa,” he added. Senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Admire Mare said it is important for Namibian leaders to learn from what is happening in South Africa, and to create platforms through which ordinary people can ventilate any concerns they might have. “It is important to resolve political problems at the level of politics, instead of allowing them to become multilayered legal, political and ethnic issues. It is important to resolve problems amicably rather than allowing them to escalate. Violence and looting do not solve problems. Constructive and inclusive dialogue is always the best way of dealing with deep-seated problems,” he reasoned. By yesterday afternoon, for the sixth day running, unrest enveloped the country as 72 people have died and more than 1 200 people have been arrested, according to official figures, stoking fears of food and fuel shortages as disruptions to farming, manufacturing and oil refining began to bite. The military has deployed 2 500 troops to help the police, who are overstretched since the unrest began last week. South African police said in a statement that they have identified 12 people suspected of provoking the riots. In the port city of Durban, people started queueing outside food stores and at fuel stations as early as 04h00 when the Covid-19-night curfew normally ends. The night before, the country’s largest refinery, Sapref, declared “force majeure” - an emergency beyond its control - and shuttered its plant in Durban, shutting down a third of South Africa’s fuel supply. The firm said the refinery was “temporarily shut down... due to the civil unrest and disruption of supply routes in and out of KwaZulu-Natal.” More than 200 shopping malls had been looted by Monday afternoon, Bloomberg news agency quoted the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, Busisiwe Mavuso, as saying. Christo van der Rheede, executive director of the largest farmers’ organisation, AgriSA, said producers were struggling to get their crops to market because the logistical network was in a “shambles”. Several shopping centres in Soweto - South Africa’s largest township which was once home to Nelson Mandela - have been completely ransacked, with ATMs broken into and restaurants, stores selling alcohol and clothing shops all left in tatters.
-Additional reporting by AFP