Kae Matundu Tjiparuro
SHOULD the country really be appreciative of the government’s efforts to attract investments, which have seen many delegations crisscrossing the globe presumably in mobilsising investors.
This is a pertinent question in view of the numbers of trips which has been undertaken by government’s officials, including the President, to woo investors. As well as the investment conferences the government and country have hosted and continue to these days. Whether such investment rides and conferences have been having the desired results remain to be seen. But here the question Yours Truly Ideologically wishes to muse about by himself, and by extension hopefully the country, more so investments experts, is to ponder, is the assumption that investments shall automatically bring about the restructuring of the Namibian socio-economic terrain. Lest the rest of the country, including officialdom, and all and sundry, if it may be uppermost in their minds at all, stop to earnestly in reflecting and zeroing in on this critical question. Taking it for granted that the shuttles may have been worth the while and investments have been flowing in, albeit negligible as they may be and/or has been. But most important
the little and/or non-negligible that has trickled in, have had the desired socio-economic impact, if only in keeping a substantive number of the socio-economically exploited and deprived, barely surviving, not to mention providing the necessary starting or initial sustainable impetus towards a radical socio-economic transformation.
Because it seems it has been all along been assumed and taken for granted that, and continues to be so assumed, that investment shall bring about socio-economic prosperity. To whom and when rarely, seems to cross the mind of many. Least that of those ever on the hunt for investors. Not to mention the consideration if any investment and/or investors are amenable to and shall be bringing about whatever prosperity is assumed and/or expected or taken for granted. Without considering the many and varied dynamics which at any given time may be at play and may render any investments, negligible or substantial, non-impactful.
As investments are only but one dynamic. With the socio-economic situation many a Namibians today find themselves, as evidenced by families surviving from scavenging, at worse, the dumping sites. Which is more than a factor of a lack of investments flowing into the country. Especially given that for that matter the little investments that have been able to flow or trickling in the country this far, indeed cannot be said to have an impact on the socio-economic situation in the country. In view of the undeniable fact and reality that masses of families are and have been continuing to survive from dumping sites. As only but one means of survival not fit for human survival. But to which they have been condemned to. As if there’s has been zero investments flow in the country. Surely this is an indication that investments flow alone cannot be the solution. Given first and foremost, that under the capitalist production relations, investments have never been and shall never at one point or another be geared towards
, let alone, ameliorate poverty, nor totally eradicate it.
On the contrary, the best benefit, if such can be seen as benefit at all, is receiving crumbs falling from the tables of investors, either through salaries and wages of the workers, or through taxes accruing to the government. Only as a guarantee for unhindered exploitation of the natural resources, and the workers. Equally whatever the government may have been getting in terms of taxes, little seems to have been ploughed into the exploited and impoverished communities. To be of any significant impact in lifting them out of poverty, squalor and destituteness .
Hence the need to seriously revisit the notion that investments in themselves and by themselves is and cannot be a good thing. Another dynamic to the equation is governance. Which, depending on whether governance is good or bad, also determines if the crumbs trickling down from the profits and/or returns on investments, reach the country being siphoned off of its natural resources, and her exploited people, is not misappropriated. Either in terms of lining the pockets of the top echelons of the politicians and the civil service, or simply disappearing without trace with no one accounting for it.
That is why one must and should look at any given investment, in the least, and in the short term, how well meaning it is and can be. Let alone how directly and to what extent it can also impact on the people on the ground, now and in the long term. That it is until and when there is a restructuring of the pertaining production system, in the case of Namibia, which is a capitalist production system, defined and characterised by capitalist socio-economic relations. Green Hydrogen, minerals exploitation, you name them, cannot but be and should be seen and allowed with the greatest circumspection. Pertaining to mining one cannot but be baffled by the zero ownership the country and or the people have in the mining and exploitation of her natural resources if only through their government. With it having in Langer Heinrich Uranium (zero), Rossing Mine-Rio Tinto (3%); Tsumeb Smelter (zero); Scorpion Zinc (zero); Navachab Gold Mine (zero); Otjikoto Gold Mine (zero); Husab-Swakop Uranium Mine (10%); Etango Uranium
Mine- Bannerman Resources (zero); Trekkopje Mine-Areva (zero); Norsa Uranium- Forsys Metal (zero); Rosh Pinah Zince Mine (zero).
All these are pointers that there’s somehow investments in the country. Whether such is before and/or after independence is immaterial. Cognisant with hindsight that pre-independence, the country’s natural resources where at the beck and call of the colonialists. Who exploited with benefits accruing more to the metropoles of the colonialists themselves with little benefit to the authentic owners of such resources. Since the country has gained independence and no one can be blamed for the zero stakes in the natural resources of the country than the government of the day. And by extension the rightful owners, the people, for allowing the pre-independence status quo to continue.
That means it is up to the people and their government to dictate terms on which their natural resources are exploited and extracted. But as it seems, the more things change the more they remain the same and the more people continue to be impoverished with the few dancing to the tunes of investors satisfied with the crumbs falling investments.