China Helps the Powerful in Namibia

From the New York Times:

So far this year, the Beijing government has secretly awarded scholarships to study in China to the offspring of nine top officials, including to the daughter of Namibia’s president, Hifikepunye Pohamba. Two young relatives of Namibia’s former president and national patriarch, Sam Nujoma, also received grants.

The disclosure of the scholarships, first revealed by a feisty Namibian newspaper, has unleashed a wave of fury from the nation’s civil society groups and youth organizations. In a country where five in six high school graduates do not go on to college, many find it unconscionable for well-paid government leaders to accept overseas university scholarships for their children…The controversy has reignited a simmering debate in Namibia over deals with the Chinese government, already under scrutiny by Namibian prosecutors. Inquiries there and in other developing countries in Africa and Asia have cast a fresh light on how China sometimes uses its treasure chest of foreign loans and aid to create elite alliances and ease the approval of no-bid contracts.

Even some within Namibia’s governing Swapo party are asking whether China is trying to buy influence with their nation’s political leadership to gain access to mineral resources or to win business for its well-connected companies.

See also past CDT posts on Namibia.

November 19, 2009 10:37 PM
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