Namibia "tells off" Western investors
«I told them today that we don't need your money. We can develop ourselves.»
President Sam Nujoma
The Namibian, 3 September - Namibia's President, Sam Nujoma, returned from the UN Earth Summit yesterday evening boasting "I told them off" and that Africa no longer needs aid from Western nations. He further backed Zimbabwe's President Mugabe in the latter's attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg South Africa, President Nujoma was quoted by the BBC as saying cooperation with the West was not necessary to the further development of Namibia. "We don't need your investment. You can keep your money. We will develop our Africa without your money." He based his statement on the presumption that European money meant importing European values, which "include also homosexualism and lesbianism."
Back in Windhoek, Nujoma was repeating his statements. The President was speaking to Namibian Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab and Foreign Affairs Minister Hidipo Hamutenya, in the presence of journalists, at Windhoek's Eros airport after flying in from Johannesburg.
The strident tone had been set at the Summit earlier in the day, when he launched a stinging attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, charging that he was the cause of Zimbabwe's ills. As the motorcade waited to whisk the President off to State House, Nujoma briefed his newly chosen Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs chief.
- I told them off, he said to his two Cabinet colleagues as they laughed hesitantly. "We are tired of insults [from] these people. I told them they can keep their money. I told them that these political good governance, human rights, lesbians ... that they want to impose on our culture ... they must keep those things in Europe."
Said Nujoma: "I had about 40 minutes with BBC ... I told them off." The statements are the strongest Nujoma has so far made against the industrial world on an international stage.
Namibia's NBC national radio, whose journalists Nujoma reminded "you are under my control", reported last night that the President told Britain to change its attitude towards Africa because Africans were no longer slaves.
In his interview with the BBC, Nujoma demanded that the European Union immediately lift sanctions against Zimbabwe or else Africans will also "mobilise the African Union to impose sanctions on Europe", NBC radio said.
While an anti-Mugabe march was in progress outside the hall in the plush Sandton suburb of Johannesburg, Nujoma told 1,500 heads of state and government officials that Africa's problems should be laid at the doors of the colonisers and slave masters.
However, Zimbabwe, he told delegates, had an immediate enemy who was in their midst. Then he began to wag his finger in Blair's direction. "We here in southern Africa have one big problem, created by the British. The honourable Tony Blair is here, and he created the situation in Zimbabwe," Nujoma said.
Blair spoke for 10 minutes after Nujoma. He did not immediately respond to the Namibian President's attack. The British Prime Minister stressed the main theme of the summit - the need to fight poverty - saying the industrialised world had to open up its markets to developing countries.
Outside the conference later, Blair told the BBC that President Nujoma was defending the "utterly indefensible behind the cloak of colonialism". A spokesman said the British PM remained unruffled by Nujoma's attack. "(Blair's) focus is exclusively on the outcome of the summit," the spokesman said, adding that Nujoma's words were not a surprise. "He has been saying it for years."
During his summit speech, Nujoma demanded that: "The EU, who have imposed the sanctions against Zimbabwe, must raise them immediately; otherwise it is useless to come here." The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe following what many foreign and some African observers said were fraudulent elections and in response to the seizure of white-owned farms.
President Nujoma said he wondered why Europeans wanted land in Africa, especially Namibia and Zimbabwe, while Africans didn't have land in Europe. Speaking largely off the cuff at the summit, Nujoma said: "The British colonial settlers in Zimbabwe today, they own 78 per cent of the land in Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe is a tiny country. It has 14 million indigenous [people] who don't have land."
Nujoma blamed most of the problems of Africans and black people in general on slave trade and colonialism. "The Africans who were taken there are being discriminated [against] in America and South America ... They are underdogs, they are the poorest of the world."
The Namibian President also demanded that developed nations find a cure for AIDS, alluding to previous statements he has made in which he said the origin of HIV should be blamed on Western countries.
Nujoma's speech drew applause, especially from some African delegates. "He had the most dramatic speech." said a delegate. "Others were ordinary. He showed no diplomacy as he waved the finger."
On his arrival in Windhoek, having cut his trip short, Nujoma told Gurirab that he did not stay longer because he had work to do. He told the media at the airport that Namibians had to work "24 hours" because Africa was rich and could uplift itself. "Even in Namibia we have enough wealth," he said. "We have already enough meat, we are exporting meat. We have enough fish; we are exporting fish to other countries. Now, why should we cry to these imperialists?"
- I told them today that we don't need your money. We can develop ourselves, the Namibian President said.
Speaking at the Summit, Zimbabwe's President Mugabe criticised those condemning him saying "let no one interfere with our processes. Mr Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe," an eloquent Mugabe
Based on an article by Tangeni Amupadhi, 'The Namibian'