‘We are not puppets’ — Namibian president to China


Namibia is a southwest African country that mostly desert and populated by fewer than three million people. It has a history of being a stomping ground for global powers — as a German colony, and as an illegally held annex of South Africa when the U.S. and Cuba were fighting a proxy war on its border with Angola. So perhaps Namibians have had enough of being told what to do. The Namibian reports that last week President Hage Geingob told the Chinese ambassador to Namibia last month not to tell him what to do regarding the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit, which is now ongoing in Beijing.

  • Ambassador Zhang Yiming 张益明 met Geingob to brief him on FOCAC, and give advice for a speech he will deliver a speech on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as the current chair of the regional bloc.
  • “During the meeting and in the presence of the media, Zhang suggested to Geingob that he should speak highly of China-Africa economic relations, specifically involving Namibia… Zhang further proposed that Geingob should affirm Africa’s political support for China and that of Namibia since he was ‘a statesman,’” reports the Namibian.
  • “I have my speech writers. They will handle it. You should not tell us what we should do. We are not puppets. Let’s talk about the programme of the summit,” the President is reported to have answered. He also “further emphasised that people with business proposals should deal with line ministries, and not directly with him, because he wants to promote the culture of transparency.”