China-Namibia in visa exemption talks

• By Uaueza Kanguatjivi

HOME Affairs Minister Albert Kawana says mutual visa exemptions with other countries, such as China and Russia, are vital for Namibia because they help attract business and encourage tourism.

In an interview, Kawana mentioned a recent incident where an African delegation was stripped of their diplomatic passports.

“This is happening worldwide where Africans are mistreated in other countries, which is why we need reciprocal visa exemptions, which China and Russia have agreed to.

“Following independence, in line with Article 96 of the Namibian Constitution, the government exempted the first crop of countries, mainly from Europe and North America.

“This was done to boost tourism, and no official agreements were made at the time, whereas with the second crop of nations, nationals do not need visas for a specific duration of time, mostly covering some African and Commonwealth countries,” he said.

The discussion over visa exemptions comes hot on reports that Namibia and China would shortly adopt visa-free travel between the two countries.

In a letter dated June 19 addressed to Kawana, Landless People’s Movement (LPM), Junia Kaindjee requested the government re-evaluate the visa exemption proposal, expressing concerns about its potential negative impact on Namibia’s disadvantaged youth.

Kaindjee said Namibia is currently facing an unemployment rate of over 55 percent, a staggering figure highlighting the urgent need for job creation and opportunities for our youth.

“The choice to exempt Chinese nationals from the 30-day visa requirement raises severe concerns in light of these difficult circumstances. We worry that this action will further disadvantage our youth who are already disadvantaged and jobless and restrict their access to potential employment prospects,” he said.

Kaindjee asserted that LPM prioritises serving the needs and interests of Namibian citizens, particularly the unemployed youth who are in dire need of assistance and chances for socio-economic emancipation.

“In light of these worries, I respectfully ask that you take the following measures: Engage in diplomatic conversations with the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote reciprocal visa agreements that consider the needs of Namibia’s youth. Before giving visas to foreign nationals, prioritise the creation of sustainable job opportunities for Namibian youth and ensure that local labour market demands are met,” he stated.

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