[DEBATE] : Re:Namibian workers strike today at diamond factory:Background info.
Salim.Vally at wits.ac.za
Sun Jun 22 09:27:23 BST 2008
Letter published in the Namibian-2004
Friday, July 23, 2004 - Web posted at 10:48:58 GMT
How Namibia Supports Israel's Palestine Occupation
UNWITTINGLY or not, Namibia is supporting the occupation of Palestine by Israel.
By giving diamond concessions to a top Israeli company and by maintaining diplomatic contacts with the Israeli state, Namibia is actually sabotaging the struggle of the Palestinian people under the PLO and other groups.
A few weeks ago, a top Israeli company, Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) and its numerous subsidiaries, were given 36 concessions said to be worth US$180 million by the Namibian government.
In fact, Lev Leviev was brought into the country and paraded by President Nujoma and his ministers as a foreign investor and as someone who would save Namibia from the jaws of De Beers and make the country independent and proud because LLD would be the first company to mine and process Namibian gems locally.
And one of our newspapers splashes it in a headline: "Foreign Diamond Group to Invest Heavily".
What a farce.
The investment in question is a paltry N$320 million.
This amount is even less than what taxpayers pay to bail out Air Namibia.
For example, government allocated N$366 million to the national airline this financial year.
The point is that Leviev is coming to extract and exploit our natural resource.
What Nujoma, his Ministers and advisors (if he has any) seem to forget is that both the hippo and the crocodile can happily live in the same river and so will De Beers and the Lev Leviev Diamonds.
LLD is one of the biggest sponsors of the Israeli state and Jewish activities worldwide.
Leviev himself serves as the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities.
It is therefore clear that by giving diamond concessions to this man, Namibia has turned its diamonds into "blood diamonds" - being used to maintain the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
It is now totally forgotten that Israel was a big supporter of the then Apartheid State in its fight against independence for both Namibia and SA.
And in terms of its brutality against the Palestinian people, Israel's methods of suppression have surpassed those of South Africa.
A few remarks following on these observations: Firstly, what is needed is a simple public policy instrument to be put in place to have Namibian gems mined and processed locally and not to bring in another super-exploiter of the world diamond resources to join the other.
Secondly, what is it that Leviev can do that the rest of us can't do? His luck is that there are so many stupid governments and leaders out there convinced that diamond mining is an activity meant for a certain category of people and the rest of us will have to depend on the crumbs from the table.
For example, we are told that Samicor (LLD) would offer 8% to the Namibian government, 10% to an unnamed black economic empowerment group, 2% to the national youth service and 4% to future employees.
So the owner of the resource becomes the receiver of the handout.
In fact, Leviev had the temerity to lecture Namibians on what would be good for them under his tutelage.
He said: "Why not let them (Namibians) share in the wealth and learn new skills, to earn their bread in honour and advance the economy significantly".
Get off my back! Thirdly, Namibia's so-called economic diplomacy has let the country lose sight of any moral principles and so has our neighbour Angola where Lev Leviev now also controls some of the world's most lucrative diamond fields.
All this begs the question: do we have a foreign policy at all? Except the endless travel by government officials in search of money and this animal called a foreign investor? And in the end we spend more money looking for money.
Someone must do a simple cost-benefit analysis of the 'official' visits by the President, ministers and other petty officials since independence to get the full picture.
Why is this country opting for dependent development instead of a more radical and self-reliant development path? But this mishap in our foreign policy is not just confined to this specific issue.
Take the case of Cuba.
Since the 1960s, the USA has imposed a punitive economic embargo on Cuba - actually economic aggression.
Namibia, which has benefited so much from Cuba both before and after independence, maintains normal diplomatic and economic ties with the USA administrations.
The dictum: 'my friend's enemy's is my enemy' has been turned on its head by our government.
Thus both Cuba and the PLO have become our tangential friends because they don't have big $ to spend in Namibia, and thus don't factor into our economic-diplomacy calculations.
And the irony of it all is that some people are now being accused as being at the service of imperialism.
But which imperialists?
Alexactus T. Kaure
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