The envisaged phosphate mining along our coast by two Australian companies is a perfect example how a hungry child accepts anything edible, despite the consequence of toxicity in the long run. When a country like Namibia forfeits its right to say no in its quest to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) it could lead to corruption, poverty and serious degradation of the environment for tomorrow’s generation.
This is in reference to dubious FDI’s in mining, especially those involving toxic material that could affect living organisms and the environment. Some FDI’s coming Namibia’s way have been initially rejected in the so-called developed world, either on environmental grounds or due to long-term economic viability.This investment in phosphate mining, rightly condemned by Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Bernard Esau, hails from a country that will probably never allow such activities on its shores. The south pacific country recently declared the biggest marine conservation area in the world. Australia is now considered a champion in green economy and nature conservation, despite its controversial history of decimating its native Aboriginal population to the point of near-extinction.
Nonetheless Namibia issued phosphate mining license/s, despite the potential effects on marine bio-diversity, and its likely impact on the fisheries sector. There’s no question that intra-regional, continental and international trade is one way of expediting development and prosperity, but it should not be at the expense of the country’s inhabitants who must invariably bear the brunt. Namibia ought to know that it doesn’t have to fight for raw deals on the international market. It should instead recognise its skills deficit and redouble its efforts to compliment its share of international trade. In a world of geo-political coercion and trade wars the world stock market is an animal that no developing country in a credit-crunch can tame.
Why should Africa, Namibia in particular, with its enormous mineral and human resources act like a beggar? The answer lies in our interlocutors who are more concerned with lining their pockets through dubious commissions and bribes, even at the expense of their own countrymen and women.
We should never allow the destruction of our beautiful country for a pittance, just because the government of the day is crisis-managing the country. With proper regulatory mechanisms, the country can earn much more through royalties and taxes from meaningful and viable mining ventures. Some international investors are throwing enough ropes to the country to hang itself with due to limited options to find alternative modes of increasing the state revenue, but the country is acting like a free slave who chooses to chain his ankle again just after being freed. The thought of freedom-fighters selling the country for a pittance to the highest bidder is horrifying. They are embroiled in corruption and self aggrandizement, while babies are dying in maternity wards and the poor eat from the dumpsites. It is reminiscent of the 19th century trail-blazers who bought diamonds, gold, ivory and land with alcohol and shiny trinkets.
Commentators have described Africa’s riches as a curse, aggravated by desperate gratification of the few at the expense of the many. Whenever a high-ranking official has an interest in a mining company, albeit controversial, it will pass. Freedom-fighters of yesteryear have become today’s fifth column, shamelessly treating their own countrymen and women worse than the “colonialists and imperialists”.
Namibia needs investments in mining and all other critical sectors, but falling for FDI’s regurgitated elsewhere will have severe consequences for the generation that will one day take over from the Tanga-group. They will not be around to witness the mess they have left behind when the next generation will inherit debt, poverty and a polluted environment.
As we have learnt from Zimbabwe, poor business decisions will lead to economic instability, inherent corruption and subsequently the slow death of the Republic.