WINDHOEK – The most representative body of local businesses, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), has called on local manufacturers and suppliers to increase their capacity and output in order to decrease a historic dependence on South Africa.
Namibia still imports the bulk of its food products, petroleum products and fuel, machinery, equipment and chemicals from South Africa, with as much as 66 percent of total Namibian imports coming from that country.
However, ongoing violence in South Africa against fellow Africans, African-owned shops and truck drivers from other African countries, is fuelling anti-South African sentiment across the continent.
“It is time we focus on enhancing our manufacturing sector. As long as we continue our reliance on South Africa it will increase the risks to the Namibian economy. Also, we have to look at opening trade with other African countries, particularly outside the existing economic blocs like the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu),” said chief executive officer of NCCI, Charity Mwiya.
In an interview with New Era, Mwiya echoed the sentiment that the violence in South Africa is tantamount to economic sabotage but she cautioned that because of South Africa’s position as a strategic economy, both in the region and on the continent as a whole, the economies of many other countries that trade with South Africa would be affected.
New Era yesterday also spoke to Schalk Pienaar, deputy managing director of Shoprite Namibia, who confirmed that no delays had been experienced yet in terms of receiving supplies from South Africa.
“Most of our transporters are local and we have had no delays yet. However, we are closely monitoring the situation and are keeping in touch with all out transporters,” said Pienaar.
Meanwhile, the Namibian High Commission to South Africa on Tuesday issued an advisory warning Namibians to avoid trouble areas in and around Gauteng. Some of the no-go areas include the Pretoria CBD and the Johannesburg CBD as well as Hillbrow, Turfontein and Tembisa.
According to Trading Economics, South Africa realised a positive trading balance of N$30 billion a year with Namibia from 2015 to 2017.
South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately 30 times greater than that of Namibia and both countries belong to Sacu, meaning they are bound by similar reciprocal trade agreements.
Both Namibia and South Africa are also part of the Common Monetary Area and the Namibian dollar is pegged to the rand at 1:1. Fluctuations in the South African rand therefore directly affect Namibia, whose economic growth and interest rates are also largely affected by South Africa’s economic conditions.
However, South African businesses have made significant inroads into the rest of Africa where they trade with a number of African countries that ultimately boost the profits of South African businesses.
One of these African countries where South Africa has made major inroads is Nigeria, whose citizens have been systematically targeted when xenophobic tensions flare up.
In a response to the persistent targeting of Nigerian nationals, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Danielson Akpan, recently called on the approximately 120 South African businesses, including corporate giants MTN and Shoprite, to leave Nigeria within seven days.
“South Africans, henceforth, should leave Nigeria with all their businesses. We are giving an ultimatum of seven days for this action to be carried out,” said Akpan. These threats to South African businesses yesterday resulted in a social media video emanating from Nigeria purportedly showing one of the Shoprite outlets in that country up in smoke. However, New Era was unable to confirm the incident at the time of going to print.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also summoned South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria over the violence.
In addition, the effects of the violence are also being felt in other spheres such as sports as it has been reported that Zambia cancelled a friendly football match with South Africa’s national men’s team Bafana Bafana, citing security concerns.
Another South African company with major operations in Nigeria is MultiChoice, which yesterday issued a strong statement from its Group CEO, Calvo Mawela, condemning the xenophobia.
“The ongoing violence in South Africa against foreign nationals is against the spirit of Africa and counterproductive to the decades of work done by African leaders and well-meaning organsations to unite the continent. We are a proudly African company and although our story began in South Africa, today we represent the African continent in all its diversity through our presence across the region. We embrace and celebrate the diversity of varied nationalities, traditions, cultures and religions from across the continent and beyond,” read Mawela’s statement.
He added that this is a sombre period for every African on the continent and beyond and urged all MultiChoice customers and stakeholders to shun the violence.
The recurring xenophobic attacks have also resulted in unconfirmed reports of a number of countries withdrawing from the World Economic Forum for Africa meeting, which commenced in Cape Town yesterday. It has been reported that the presidents of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi have withdrawn from the event in the face of ongoing violence against other Africans. Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein, and two officials from his ministry, departed for the event on Tuesday and are expected to return on Friday.
While South Africans involved in the attacks claim they are retaliating against crime committed by foreigners and the sale of illicit goods by foreign shop owners, political and economic analysts believe African immigrants have become scapegoats for rising anger over South Africa’s joblessness and general economic woes. It is also believed South Africans involved in the attacks suffer from misplaced anger combined with an inferiority complex as a result of decades of apartheid and oppression as the violence is directed at fellow Africans who do not comprise even one percent of South Africa’s overall wealth.
2019-09-05 07:25:14 18 days ago