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President Hage Geingob believes neighbouring South Africa has enough ammunition in its armoury to fend off the advances of marauding economic and political instabilities, which, if unattended, could spill over to other countries in the region.
South Africa’s economy remains in the doldrums following weak expansion in the second quarter and recent monthly indicators do not provide much hope for an economic acceleration in the second half of the year.
The economy is also threatened by political turmoil, evidenced by the fact that earlier this month President Jacob Zuma narrowly survived a no-confidence vote backed by elements within his own party, which holds a wide majority in parliament.
Zuma’s critics say numerous corruption scandals and delays in passing key reforms have not only heightened calls for his resignation, but are also deterring investors and putting the country’s credit rating at risk.
Speaking in London, England, recently, President Geingob was quizzed on events unfolding in South Africa, which could have a contagious effect on Namibia.
Zuma’s party, the ANC, enjoys close ties with Geingob’s party, Swapo.
Also, about 80 percent of goods imported to Namibia are from South Africa and the fact that the Namibian dollar is pegged to the South African rand means the two economies have been fluctuating together, especially against major foreign currencies.
Namibia’s national debts have soared in recent months, a situation often blamed on the weakening rand (and consequently the Namibian dollar) against major currencies in which Namibia is required to honour her debt obligations. Geingob’s faith in the leadership of South Africa remains intact, though.
« We are linked economically and what happens there affects us, » he said. « They are a democratic country with strong institutions, so we have faith that they will deal with their issues successfully.
« We are monitoring the happenings there, but we are not overly concerned. We need a stable South Africa, because instability there would negatively affect our regional integration ambitions as SADC, » he told investors.
South Africa’s economic growth during the current financial year is expected to amount to zero percent, while that of Namibia has been revised downward from the initial projection of four percent to about two percent.
The ANC’s electoral support in South Africa has also dwindled notably under the leadership of Zuma, evidenced by its trouncing by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in this year’s local authority elections that saw the official opposition taking over ANC strongholds Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.
Swapo, on the other hand, has increased its support-base, having won the 2014 national elections by a record 80 percent.
The party is expected to hold its elective congress in 2017, where leaders, including its candidate for the 2019 presidential election, would be elected.