President Mbumba Must Be Joking

New president Nangolo Mbumba this week enthusiastically declared that Namibia will look to northern neighbour Angola on how to set up its own oil and gas industry.

“Sooner or later, as we develop our oil and gas industry, we will have to send [our] people here [to Angola] to come and learn how things are done properly,” Mbumba told the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

‘Namibia plans to benchmark the oil and gas industry off Angola’, read the state-funded broadcaster’s headline.

The Villager summed it up similarly: ‘Namibia to Mirror Angola’s Oil and Gas Industry Approach’.

The Observer wasn’t much different with its ‘Namibia to model its oil and gas industry on the Angolan benchmark’.

Unless Mbumba claims he was misunderstood, his message is a worrying sign that Namibia is on course to learn from one of the most corrupt countries in the oil business.

The president said they observed that the oil industry was being run for the benefit of Angolans.

Either Mbumba chose to be untruthful, or he is simply out of touch with reality.

Apart from the theft of millions of United States dollars by politicians, military chiefs and relatives of leaders such as former president José Eduardo dos Santos, Mbumba seems to have missed consistent news reports over the past decade on how Angolans have fled hunger and overall poverty in southern Angola to Namibia.

Camps have been set up for economic refugees who keep returning soon after repatriation, because they are at least guaranteed a meal in Namibia.

How can Namibia even think about learning from Angola about how to use oil revenue when such a rich nation cannot take care of its population with its heaps of resources?

We haven’t even brought in the questionable so-called oil exploration deals Namcor has undertaken with Sonangol (Angola’s state oil firm) in which Namibia seems to have lost more than N$100 million.

Namcor MD Immanuel Mulunga was suspended over that scheme and other dubious transactions.

It is already concerning that Namibia does not have legal and international policies in place to ensure that corruption is kept at bay in the country’s oil and gas sector.

To choose Angola as a model, instead of the best practices of Norway and to a lesser extent Middle East countries like Qatar that ensure a truly national benefit for the citizens, is nothing short of hatching a looting plan.

To paraphrase the late maverick Namibian politician Kazenambo Kazenambo: “President Mbumba monjanda ove nu?”
Indeed, please assure the citizens of Namibia you were just joking.

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