Critics of Wales sending PPE to Namibia accused of ‘parroting lazy and unfounded tropes’
Critics of the Welsh Government’s decision to send PPE to Namibia have been accused of “parroting lazy and unfounded tropes about corruption”.
The Wales Overseas Agencies Group slammed critics of the the project to deliver £7.2m worth of PPE from Wales to Namibia.
The Welsh Conservatives had earlier complained about the scheme, suggesting that Namibia was “besieged by corruption” and that the money could end up in someone’s “back pocket”.
Chair of the Wales Overseas Agencies Group, Claire O’Shea, however praised Wales for “acting in solidarity with those in need of support”.
Clinical equipment, including masks, gowns and hand sanitizer which is not needed by the NHS in Wales is being donated via the Phoenix Project. A further £500,000 grant is being given for oxygen equipment and nurse training.
“Today’s news is something that we, in Wales, can be proud of. To play a role in supporting global efforts against COVID-19 will bring about safety for everyone,” Claire O’Shea said.
“Being in a position to be confident of future supplies of personal protective equipment should be celebrated. Sadly, this isn’t a position many people around the world share.
“It is therefore disappointing to hear and read comments that parrot lazy and unfounded tropes of corruption against our partners in Namibia.
“Namibia ranks as one of the least corrupt countries in the entire continent of Africa and less corrupt than Greece and four other EU member states.
“While being a globally responsible nation means that our national pursuit for social and environmental justice may start at home, it doesn’t end there. For over a year, we have been bombarded with evidence of the interconnectedness of our world as the pandemic took hold and raged across us all.
“The public health emergency from COVID-19 may have subsided here but it is not over until it is over everywhere. That is why we must continue to work in solidarity with our partners across the world.”
Commenting on the Welsh Labour Government’s announcement it is to give £500k plus £7m worth of PPE to Namibia, Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George MS said: “As a United Kingdom we should always seek to help those worse off.
“Labour’s decision to spend half a million pounds and send £7m worth of PPE to a country that is often accused of being besieged by corruption will raise some eyebrows at home, particularly when ministers in Cardiff Bay regularly claim resources are stretched and blame the UK Government.
“As we move into the more challenging seasons of autumn and winter, Welsh Government ministers must confirm we have a plentiful supply of PPE in Wales and that the money given to Namibia is guaranteed to be used for the purposes set out, not lost in someone’s back pocket.”
Professor Judith Hall, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and lead of the Phoenix Project, said she had made a personal plea to the Welsh First Minister to help the country, which has the worst Covid fatality rate in Africa and is in “extreme need”.
“I phoned Mark Drakeford and asked: ‘What can the people of Wales do to help?’” said Professor Hall.
“I asked for a donation of PPE from the Welsh Government – and sent him a list of the hundreds of thousands of items the Namibians desperately need to fight Covid. They came back with an incredible donation of millions of pieces of PPE, worth $150 Million Namibian dollars.
“These donations will make a huge and sustainable difference to the people of Namibia and in the short term, thousands of lives will be saved. This is only possible because we have resilient PPE supply chains here in Wales, so we are able to offer much-needed support to our partners in southern Africa.
“The Phoenix Project is delighted to be delivering the PPE donation and managing the oxygen grant on behalf of the Welsh Government.”