The Inheritance

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The southwest African country of Namibia has long been isolated geographically and politically. A former German colony that came under a White-minority government under South African control after World War I, Namibia only gained its independence in 1990.

Now, however, things here are changing fast.

As MercoPress wrote recently, Namibia is on track to receive billions of dollars in exchange for allowing oil drilling projects as Chevron, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the Hess Corporation, Total, Shell, and ExxonMobil hunt for new supplies outside the volatile Middle East and Russia.

“Oil companies are flocking to Namibia,” wrote Reuters.

These oil deposits are both offshore and in areas like the Kavango Basin, explained Upstream, heralding massive revenues to help the poor country – while also triggering environmental concerns. According to studies cited in the Namibian Sun, however, the country will likely benefit more than suffer from these riches – so long as officials carefully manage the industry and their newfound wealth.

Namibia’s general election set for November is therefore one of the most important in the country’s memory. Due to the death of 82-year-old President Hage Geingob in February, as the Washington Post reported, Namibian voters have a chance to install a new government to manage their potential prosperity, too.

Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah will represent the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), the freedom-fighter group that fought for independence against South Africa, wrote the African Center for Strategic Studies. She would be the country’s first elected female leader if she wins.

Nandi-Ndaitwah has appealed to voters’ sense of nostalgia about SWAPO’s fight for independence, reported Xinhua. She can also rightly point to freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, and other signs of good government that have developed under SWAPO’s watch.

But her rival, Panduleni Itula of the Independent Patriots for Change party, is expected to give Nandi-Ndaitwah a run for her money because SWAPO’s share of the vote has been declining in recent years. While concerns about corruption are driving the decline, the country’s political system has also become healthier and more diverse. SWAPO has run the country for 34 years.

Itula can exploit how the country’s economy has been stagnant as oil companies prepare to drill, added Deutsche Welle. Unemployment in Namibia is 34 percent, while youth unemployment is 48 percent. The country is the second-most unequal country in the world, wrote

The pressure between the two candidates is building. SWAPO leaders recently accused the European Union of seeking to meddle in the election when bloc officials recently met with Itula, for example, noted the Africa Report.

It was just lunch, Itula’s supporters said. That’s politics in a free society, they add.

And free it is, compared to many other countries on the continent.

For example, after Geingob died, his successor, interim President Nangolo Mbumba, took the helm. Instead of trying to stay on, he said at his swearing-in in February: “I am not going to be around for the elections, so don’t panic.”

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