Namibia: SPYL Drops Out of Anti-Chinese Protest

The Swapo Party Youth League is standing by its demand that state contracts and tenders must not be given to Chinese or other foreign-owned companies at the expense of Namibians, its secretary general Ephraim Nekongo says.

Nekongo made these remarks in an interview with Nampa at State House in Windhoek on Monday, following a meeting with president Hage Geingob and the presidential advisers.

The SPYL, however, resolved after the meeting to withdraw from participating in a protest held against alleged flawed state procurement yesterday.

"We immediately withdraw our participation at that level because we have spoken to people who are going to solve the problem," he said, before describing the meeting as very tough.

"We told them that the conditions attached to tenders need to be re-looked at so that at the end of the day, it benefits our people," Nekongo said.

During the meeting, the SPYL leadership was also briefed on how Namibia secured loans from different countries.

"What we have been made to understand is that the Chinese were more flexible in terms of their loans," he added.

SPYL is also of the opinion that the mere fact that Namibia received a loan or loans from China and then gave state tenders to Chinese companies, was a self-defeating exercise.

"It cannot be correct that we are getting the loans from them, and at the end of the day, they come and do the work for us, and the money goes out (of the country)," Nekongo reasoned.

The youth league also told the Swapo leadership that the "unscrupulous and continued exploitation" of timber in Zambezi and the two Kavango regions cannot proceed unabated.

"It cannot be correct that the wood is taken out of the country when we can immediately ask those colleagues to set up a factory at Rundu, and create employment and add value," he reasoned.

Nekongo went on to say that the government must look at modalities that would enable Namibian businesses to benefit from the country's resources, as opposed to the current trend where mostly foreigners benefit.

He, however, downplayed the assertion that their 11th hour meeting with Geingob was a mere window-dressing exercise.

Meanwhile, the demonstration, planned by the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union, proceeded yesterday as planned.

In his statement, Geingob said this was a consultative meeting, where Swapo members were sharing information.

"Then we Harambee (pull together in the same direction)," he said. - Nampa

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