International Capital in Namibia


Dr. Franz J. T. Lee


Executive Member of the „Pan African International“ and Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the Technical University College in Darmstadt



„Review of International Affairs“, Vol. XXIV, No. 569, December 20, 1973

German Colonialism


In 1883 the wholesale merchant, Adolf Lüderitz, from Bremen bought a part of Namibia from a Khoikhoin-Chief, Josef Fredericks, for 100 pounds sterling and 200 guns. A year later „South West Africa“ became a colony under the protection of the German Reich. Till 1913 about 14000 Germans emigrated to Namibia in the hope of becoming rich within a short period of time. Most of these immigrants settled down as Karakul-farmers. Between 1884 and 1890, after the Berlin Conference, the demarcation lines were officially agreed upon, as far as Angola and the Cape Colony were concerned.


In 1904 the famous rebellion of the Herero-people against German colonialism broke out. Under Gen. von Trotka reinforcement troops arrived and massacred 78300 of the 100000 Hereros, then living in Namibia - most of them were shot, others died of thirst in the semi-desert. The 21700 who outlived this genocide were then dispossessed of their lands by the German colonial administration. In 1907 the Khoikhoin-peoples rebelled against this Herrenvolk rule and they were slaughtered by Gen. Deumling in a similar manner. Around 1890 about 20000 Nama people lived in Namibia, due to this mass destruction policy of the Germans, by 1911 the Nama only numbered officially 9800. Hundreds of Namibian freedom fighters died in the concentration camps of Swakopmund and Shark Island, near Luderitzbucht. According to official estimations about 45% of the interned Namibians died in these camps - about 7700 prisoners. During this period of rebellion (1904-1911) the German colonialists destroyed the subsistence economy and one third of the labour power of the African autochthonous.



Annexation by South Africa


During World War I South African troops entered Namibia and occupied the whole territory in 1915. At the end of the War, in 1918, Namibia was entrusted to the Union of South Africa as a „C Mandate“ by the League of Nations. More and more the „native policies“ of South Africa were introduced in Namibia. In 1925 the white population was granted internal self-government. The African population was deprived of all human rights. After World War II and the dissolution of the League of Nations, South Africa continued to administer Namibia as a mandate. In 1949, after the Boer „Nationalist Party“, after the South African variation of

Nazism, carne into power, Namibia was illegally annexed. After many manoeuvres, court proceedings, gymnastics of international law etc., the United Nations terminiated the mandate of South Africa on October 27, 1966, declaring that Namibia was hence-forth the immediate responsibility of the UN. An eleven member UN Council for Namibia was formed to study means and ways for future administration. Already in 1968 South Africa did not allow Council members to enter the territory. In May 1972, after a visit of the UN Secretary-General, Dr. Waldheim, to Namibia, South Africa agreed to the appointment of a UN commissioner for Namibia, provided that he had his seat in New York, from where he could visit the territory and make reports. Thus all legal and peaceful methods to solve the „Namibian question“ were thwarted by the Republic of South Africa.



Economic Exploitation


The economy of Namibia is a mixture of European industries and African subsistence economy. The industrial sector is dominated by fishing, mining and agriculture. In the mining industry are engaged the huge companies financed by foreign capital. The white colonial settlers own huge farms, which are run by cheap Black labour. In the socalled „homelands“ or „Bantustans“ the Africans live on the bread line, trying to exist on an anachronistic subsistence economy. The rich farmlands, the natural resources, the mineral wealth, sea-ports and means of modern communication are all reserved for the minority of whites. Although it seldom rains in Namibia, nevertheless the country is suitable for cattle and sheep farming. Next to fishing, mining is a very important industry. Uranium, copper, lead, tin, zinc and diamonds belong to the most richest mineral deposits. The black Namibians, however, by no means profit from this natural wealth. De Beers Consolidated Mines of S.A. Ltd exploits the diamonds. The Karakul-skins are sold on auctions in England, the milk products and meat are sent to South Africa, also the fish are exported by South African controlled firms. In 1965 the gross national income of Namibia was 200.000.000 DM as compared to a total gross income of about DM.


Since 1965 South Africa did not publish any official economic figures about Namibia anymore, nevertheless it is sure that foreign capital has concentrated itself in the mining industry ever since.


The following international finance companies are engaged in the exploitation of the wealth of Namibia:


Charter Consolidated Co. Ltd. of the UK; Consolidated Gold Fields Ltd. of the UK; Selection Trust Ltd. of the UK; American Metal Climax Inc. of the US; Navarro Exploitation Co. of the US; Newmont Mining Corp. of the US; Falconbridge Nickel-Mines of Canada; Anglo-American Corp. of S.A.; De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. of S.A.; Consolidated Diamond Mines Ltd. of SWA; Federale Volksbeleggings of S.A.; Iron and Steel Corporation of S.A.


The following international companies are prospecting for oil and other minerals:


British Petroleum Co. of the UK; Shell Co. of the UK; Chevron Oil of the US; Texaco of the US; Gulf Oil Co. of the US; H. M. Mining and Exploration Co. of the US; Phelps Dodge of the US; United States Steel Corp.; Brilund Mines of Canada; Société Miniere et Métallurgique de Perranoya of France; Societe Nationals de Petiole d’Aquitaine of France.


These firms pay large sums of money in form of taxes to the South African government. In 1970 145.000.000 dollars entered the South African Treasury in Pretoria as tax from Namibia, the lion’s share came from foreign companies exploiting Namibia. Mining alone contributes 70% of the national income of Namibia. The Herero-chief Kapuuo fears that by the time that Namibia has emancipated itself from foreign rule, all its mineral wealth will have been exploited. Experts also warn that the intensive exploitation could rob Namibia of its natural resources within the next 25 years.



The Consolidated Diamond Mines of South West Africa (CDM)


The CDM is by far the greatest foreign investment company in Namibia and at the same time the biggest producer in the world of jewelry. It monopolises the diamond industry, the most important mineral resource of Namibia.


5000 African migrant workers, mainly from Ovamboland, are employed by CDM; they earn an average monthly income of 50 dollars. CDM controls the life of these workers: when the labourers enter or leave the controlled zones, they are searched by CDM, to check that they have not swallowed diamonds, they are regularly X-rayed, they may only use radios with permission of the company, they cannot use private cars in the controlled areas, at week-ends they can only use buses of CDM.


Till 2010 CDM has obtained the rights to exploit diamonds in Namibia, in an area which comprises 200 miles length and 60 miles breadth. Together with Tsumeb Corporation CDM produces 90% of metal products in Namibia. Of diamonds alone CDM exploits 95% of the total production - also 80% of the Republic of South Africa. Alone in 1969 2.034.292 carats of diamonds were won in Namibia, of which only about 400000 carats were exploited by other firms.


In 1969 the profits of CDM were double the state budget of Namibia. By a profit of 73,9 mill. dollars the dividends paid out were 33,5 mill. dollars - nearly every cent flowed to South Africa.


This is just one example of foreign exploitation in Namibia, which means mass exploitation of the Namibian peoples, forcing them to live on and under the bread line.


The results are that the infant mortality rate in Namibia is 35%; 50% of the Namibian children do not reach the age of six. The average life expectancy is 31 years for Black men, 33 for Black women, 65 for White men and 72 for White women. To compare: the average for men in the Federal Republic of Germany is 67, for women 72 years.


Although Namibia comprises an area of 824000 km2, the equivalent of West Germany and France together, yet its population is less than a million; the ratio of white to black is 1:7. The black majority only has 100 hospitals, the white minority 35. In the „homelands“ where the bulk of the population lives, there are only clinics for Blacks; here a white doctor visits his patients once a month for about 5 hours. Usually one doctor is available for 5000 to 8000 patients.


From the statistics we gather the following picture: For the whole of Namibia: 94; medical doctors Ratio: 1:5400; The police zone: 87;  1:3100, The northern reserves: 7; 1:35700.


In the Federal Republic of Germany 1 doctor takes care of approx. 680 patients. In Indonesia we have the same ratio as in the northern reserves of Namibia. In 1970 there were only 4 Black doctors as compared to 90 White doctors in Namibia. Due to these catastrophic medical services hundreds of Namibians die annually mainly because of diseases like diphteria and tuberculosis.



The Cunene River Scheme


At best the strategy and intrigues of international capital can be demonstrated by the notorious Cunene River scheme project. The Cunene River forms the northern border between Angola and Namibia. This project is a cooperation of Portugal and South Africa in order to consolidate economically „white power“ in Southern Africa. With this strategy for subjection, it can effectively exploit the agricultural and mineral resources of Namibia by extensive irrigation and hydro-electricity. This is just another variety of Cabora Bassa in Mozambique.


The cost of this imperialist manoeuvre will be 250.000.000 pounds sterling; 27 dams and power stations, canals, pipelines, power lines, settlements and roads are to be constructed. This scheme will exclusively serve the benefits of the white farmers and industrialists in southern Angola and northern and central Namibia. Over 125000 hectares will become cultivable and another 173000 will be suitable for ranchland.


Cheap power will be generated by this scheme, which will at the same time be complemented by cheap Black labour, guarantees for super-profits in Namibia.



The Struggle for Freedom


The Namibian people has a long tradition of struggle against German colonialism and South African apartheid. The courageous upheaval of the Ovambo, Nama and other peoples at the end of 1971 demonstrates the revolutionary will of the Namibians to attain their freedom at all costs.


Since June 1960, under the leadership of the „South West African People’s Organisation“ (SWAPO) they are determined to fight with all possible means for their total emancipation. On August 26, 1966 SWAPO decided to enter the phase of guerilla warfare. Since then it was supported by freedom fighters on an international scale. In an interview which I had with Sam Nujoma, the President of SWAPO, at the airport of Frankfurt on the Main on September 18, 1973, he formulated the future revolutionary tasks of SWAPO inter alia as follows:


a) to extend the people’s war from northern Namibia to other parts;

b) to coordinate the revolutionary struggle in Southern Africa;

c) to gain maximum medical, financial and military support for the struggle;

d) to propagate the democratic aims and revolutionary successes of SWAPO on an international scale; and

e) to obtain recognition of Namibia as the legal and legitimate possession of all Namibians.