Thursday, January 22, 2004

The BBC has an interesting piece on South Africa's often overlooked neighbour, Namibia, which has been independent for 14 years, and is currently casting around for a successor for Sam Nujoma.

I find Nujoma somewhat of an enigma. As the article states, when asked why he is building a presidential palace at a time when drought relief should be a priority, he snapped back angrily "Have you come all the way from London to ask me silly questions like that?" I remember reading an interview with Nujoma by a German journalist in which he responded in exactly the same manner to questions about his lavish spending on pet projects. He's also a notorious homophobe and an admirer of Robert Mugabe.

But, on the other hand, Namibia is by all accounts a well-run country and Nujoma is, apparently, determined that land reform should be handled with the law. Certainly, when Zim-style land invasions were threatened in Namibia, the government quickly intervened. Does this mean that, despite the rhetoric in support of Mugabe, Southern African leaders -- or at least some -- have, privately, observed Zimbabwe's implosion and learnt what not to do? Here's hoping.


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