Starting today, the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation will publish profiles of all the country’s 31 foreign missions in New Era’s Friday editions. The ministry’s executive director, Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, speaks about the initiative and Namibia’s international relations in general.
New Era (NE): What is the mandate of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation?
Selma Ashipala-Musavyi (SAM): The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is tasked with managing Namibia’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation as stipulated in Article 96 of the Namibian Constitution, with an overarching objective of protecting Namibia’s national interests abroad.
NE: How many diplomatic missions does Namibia have at the moment?
SAM: Currently Namibia has thirty (31) fully-fledged diplomatic missions and three consulates-general abroad, which amounts to 34 missions and posts altogether.
NE: What is the importance of having such missions to a country like Namibia?
SAM: The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is the government entity that is tasked with the implementation of the foreign policy, whose objective is to promote and protect the national interest of Namibia. The ministry is therefore the window through which the rest of the world view and interact with Namibia, politically, economically and culturally. The ministry is responsible for establishing diplomatic relations between Namibia and other states. It also seeks development cooperation that is beneficial to our people through bilateral cooperation between Namibia and other countries. In economic terms, the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation as the principal representative of the Namibian government abroad, through its diplomatic missions and posts, is tasked with attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), in order to create employment at home. The miplomatic missions, through the umbrella of the ministry also seek multilateral cooperation in terms of tangible social and economic projects that benefit our nationals through regional and international organisations, such as Sadc, AU, UN, Commonwealth etc. The ministry also facilitates employment of Namibians in regional and international organizations. His Excellency Dr. Hage G. Geingob, the President of the Republic of Namibia, launched the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which is based on five pillars, namely: effective governance and service delivery; economic advancement; social progression; infrastructure development and international relations and cooperation.
Under the Harambee Prosperity Plan the focus on international relations and cooperation will, therefore, be for the international community to support Namibia translate her political independence into economic independence. Given our challenges, the NDP5 has adopted three overarching goals, which are high and sustained economic growth, increased income equality and employment creation. All these efforts support the five pillars in the Harambee Prosperity Plan – especially the economic advancement and social progression pillars.
NE: What motivated the ministry to profile all its missions?
SAM: This project aims to educate and familiarise the Namibian citizenry with the activities of the Namibian diplomatic missions abroad, in order for them to appreciate the level of Namibia’s bilateral engagements. Furthermore, through these mission profiles, the ministry aims to assist the general public on how to take advantage of the opportunities available through our missions, in terms of business ventures, tourism, education and other socio-economic engagements – that is how our diplomatic missions may be of assistance to Namibian citizens. The mission profiles further aim at creating awareness among the Namibian public on how our diplomatic missions are promoting trade and investments, what are the comparative advantages, and various MoUs and agreements entered into with different countries to which they are accredited and, potential benefits to Namibians.
NE: Why is it important for the public to know about the country’s missions abroad?
SAM: The public needs to know their country’s missions abroad firstly because Namibia does not exist in isolation but is connected with the international community, and therefore Namibians also need to be a proactive global player. Knowing their diplomatic missions abroad allows Namibians to know how to acquire travel visas, get to know crucial information on various business markets around the world, study requirements, tourist information and how to make use of the assistance offered by Namibian foreign service officers posted to our various diplomatic missions.
NE: What are government’s expectations from the current heads of missions?
SAM: The key focus of our heads of mission is first to promote Namibia to the rest of the world as an investment and tourism destination. Besides, our heads of missions are tasked with promoting the objectives of the national development agenda, the Harambee Prosperity Plan, as well as the Swapo elections manifesto, in terms of reaching goals such as eradicating poverty and underdevelopment, and contributing to a prosperous Namibia.
NE: What is the core principles of Namibia’s international relations policy?
SAM: The policy defines Namibia’s foreign policy, amongst others, to promote Namibia’s economic growth and development, foster international peace, build a positive image of Namibia abroad, and protect and assist Namibians in the diaspora, including students and other nationals living or visiting other countries for business, leisure or any other purpose.
NE: Namibia reviewed her foreign policy in 2016. What is the status of that process insofar as its implementation is concerned?
SAM: Following the successful foreign policy review conference in July 2016, various internal consultations have been successfully completed, which resulted in the country’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation document, which at this stage has also been made public with the entire citizenry and also already under implementation.
NE: What necessitated the need to review the policy and what does the new one intends to achieve?
SAM: The review of Namibia’s foreign policy, which is now called a Policy on International Relations and Cooperation, was undertaken in 2016, with the aim of realigning our policy with current national, regional, continental and global priorities and programs to ensure that we are responding to the new dynamics of the changing world order and modern day economic diplomacy for prosperity.
NE: Are there plans to open new diplomatic missions to add to the current ones?
SAM: The Namibian government, particularly the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation which is tasked with managing Namibia’s Policy on International Relations and Cooperation, is always looking to expand its diplomatic representation around the world and therefore, given the necessary resources, new diplomatic missions will be considered in the near future to protect our national interests abroad.
2019-06-21 10:05:34 | 9 months ago