Namibia: CNN Off the Mark On Namibia - Dprk Relations

Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia (file photo).
25 October 2017

Windhoek — Government yesterday confirmed that its last report to the United Nations on phasing out North Korean trade activities in Namibia was submitted on April 8, contrary to a report by North American news network CNN that claimed the Asian country's businesses were still thriving in Namibia.

The CNN report broadcast on Sunday was off the mark in more ways than one and the Ministry of International Relations made its discontent known yesterday.

A highly subjective CNN reported, for example, that Namibia's State House was completed "recently", when in fact it was completed nearly a decade ago.

The State House, constructed by North Korean company Mansudae Overseas Projects, was inaugurated on March 21, 2008.

And while Windhoek may not boast the tallest towers and glitzy streets, as those of New York or Atlanta, Georgia where CNN is headquartered, referring to it as a "sleepy capital" is surely belittling, but provides critical insight into the perspectives that informed the spurious allegations.

Namibia's concerted attempts to comply with the directives of the UN and her numerous assurances that the country had indeed severed trade ties with North Korea is best illustrated by the fact that all projects the Asian country was preoccupied with in Namibia are currently static white elephants.

International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah's explanation of the status quo was portrayed as having no iota of credibility, with CNN scribes prefering instead to rely on hearsay, even when they found Korean construction sites resembling deserted islands.

Namibia has indicated on numerous occasions that while it adheres to international law, as well as UN statutes, it would never trade its sovereignty for anything.

In this line Nandi-Ndaitwah maintained that terminating North Korean contracts did not mean the two countries - that have a history of solidarity stemming from Namibia's liberation struggle - would abandon their longstanding friendly relations.

In fact, Nandi-Ndaitwah last year visited Pyongyang to, rather courteously, formally inform that country's leadership that Namibia would comply with the UN and terminate the North Korean firms' contracts in Namibia. The CNN report, like many others from that side of the globe, did not include this crucial element.

On September 1, Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi invited local editors for a casual engagement on a range of issues, including ties with North Korea.

He told the assembled editors: "There were attempts by Korean companies to sue us after we terminated their contracts, but we told them we had no choice but to comply with the UN. Maybe they will still go ahead and sue us, but there's nothing we can do,"

At the time he said the last batch of North Korean nationals, who oversaw the handover of the capital projects to new contracted companies, were due to leave the country the following week.

CNN reporters appeared to have had their minds made up already before they touched down in Namibia. This apparent bias is evident in their description of the Namibian State House, which they said was designed according to North Korea's "totalitarian style".

Lineekela Mboti, the ministry's acting permanent secretary, yesterday said: "The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation rejects the widely circulating CNN newsclip, alleging that Namibia has not submitted a report for more than a year to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on the DPRK [South Korea].

"The government of Namibia wishes to [categorically] state that it has submitted reports to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee, as required, the last having been submitted on 8 April 2017.

Mboti cited International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah's interview with CNN on October 10, in which she made clear that "Namibia has terminated the contracts with KOMID and MOP in Namibia, for as long as the UN Security Council sanctions against the DPRK are in place, and all DPRK nationals have departed from the country, as part of the implementation of the UN Security Council sanctions resolutions on the DPRK."

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