Lahja Nashuuta Windhoek-Namibian political pundits have welcomed Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to Namibia today – in light of the fact that his presidency is now endorsed by regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as the African Union (AU), following the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa will be in Namibia today, for the first time as head of state, to hold bilateral talks with President Hage Geingob, who is the current deputy chairperson of SADC. A statement by the Office of the President last week noted that the visit is being conducted in the interest of further strengthening existing bilateral relations between the two countries, while exploring new possible areas of cooperation. Dr Andrew Niikondo, deputy vice-chancellor at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, (NUST) described President Mnangagwa’s visit to Namibia as an indication of continuity of the bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries, which date back to pre-independence. “I don’t think it is an issue for Mnangagwa to embark on diplomatic engagements with other countries, including Namibia, as he is the recognised president of Zimbabwe by global organisations such as the United Nations and regional political institutions such SADC and the AU,” Niikondo told New Era yesterday. “What governments need to do is to give him full support in order to address the challenges facing his country.” Niikondo expressed optimism that strengthening bilateral relations will be beneficial for the citizenry in both Namibia and Zimbabwe. He urged the two governments to priorities education and training. “As you might be aware, Zimbabwe has a very good education system in place and that’s one area in which Namibia needs support. There was an issue of Zimbabwean engineers who were sent back to Zimbabwe due to some misunderstandings and those are the situations that we need to tackle to ensure that in future our cooperation in terms of education and labour is not compromised,” he said. He added that it is important that the two governments get on with the implementation of cooperation agreements that were signed in the past and make the necessary adjustments to prioritise areas that were neglected during the Mugabe era. Local columnist and commentator Dumba Kamwanyah pointed out that the two governments’ engagements should be considered from the historic perspective – and if new bilateral relations are to be established they should strengthen what the two governments have already put in place. He said the two governments’ engagement should be guided by the historical relationship between Namibia and former president Mugabe’s administration. This, in cognizance of the “huge role” that the latter played during Namibia’s struggle for liberation and its subsequent independence, he added. “The fact that former president Mugabe was replaced under that circumstance, it is very important for the new president to complete what Mugabe has started – in so doing assuring Mugabe friends that nothing much is going to change in terms of the historical context of the bilateral relationship. In short, Mnangagwa should assure Namibia that the bilateral relationship between the two countries is still intact,” Kamwanyah said. He added that it is also important for the government of Namibia to engage its counterpart on foreign policy. “As you might be aware, they say your foreign policy should reflect the internal policies. We are a democratic country – and we are aware that what happened in Zimbabwe was not a democratic election but was some sort of military coup, therefore it is imperative for the Namibian government to stress the importance of a free and fair election for the people of Zimbabwe,” Kamwanyah said.
2018-01-15 08:40:25 8 months ago