Windhoek — Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana says the number of Chinese nationals living in Namibia stands at only 6,952, contrary to a speculative media report that had put the figure at 100,000.
The Windhoek Observer last year claimed in a report that there are currently 100,000 Chinese nationals living in the country.
It quoted Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson Salome Kambala as saying "the number of Chinese nationals in the country is increasing at an alarming rate, and is still increasing. What they do is that they come through visits, some on work permits and others on business engagements. Many who have been here for years are now permanent residents."
But Iivula-Ithana says the figure reported might have been based on the total number of Chinese nationals who frequently visited Namibia since independence as tourists and those who are holders of permanent residence permits, employment permits and short-term work-visas.
"Our most reliable figures are based on records drawn from the issuance of permanent residence permits since 1990 up to 21 February 2017, which currently stands at 1,358," she said in the National Assembly last week.
She said employment permit holders account for 4,470, while temporary residence permit holders who accompany residents as dependants - usually spouses and children - number 1,124.
Iivula-Ithana added that employment permits are granted for a minimum period of one year, or up to two years, and to a very lesser extent for period not exceeding three years, thus the ministry's response is based mainly on records for the last three years, given the expiry of previously issued permits.
With regard to vetting of foreign nationals, Iivula-Ithana said the requirements are that a police clearance certificate must be attached to the work permit applications to be considered. Any application with a negative police clearance certificate is automatically rejected.
"As minister, I am equally worried about all forms of crime being committed, hence our continuous commitment to fight crime on all fronts in close cooperation with the Ministry of Safety and Security, as well as other security organs of the State, through the conducting of various operations around the clock countrywide," she said.
With regard to comparative rates of crimes committed by various nationalities, Iivula-Ithana said the Ministry of Safety and Security, as well as the judiciary are the competent institutions to report on crime-related matters.