Political tourists are very important to tourism in every country. Although usually there to conduct business and political meeting, and to see how things are done in one country and how it could help their own, they are a good point for publicity for the tourism country they are visiting. Which is part of the reasons why Namibia is doing a lot of damage control after some 15 Ugandan parliament representatives were harassed by a Namibian Government advisor when they visited Namibia recently.
A group of Ugandan members of parliament were treated to a completely non-traditional and unexpected welcome when they flew to Namibia to observe the preparations for the upcoming elections. The group was approached by Mvula Ya Nangolo, a government advisor, who instead of offering platitudes of warm welcome, hurled insults at them, called them names and rounded it all up with a physical attack on one of the female MPs using his walking stick. The incident is definitely not what Namibia wants to be portrayed as both concerning tourism and its political relations. Thankfully except for the bruises on the female MPs head, no one was seriously hurt, but the senior government officials hosting the delegation.
Staff at the Safari Hotel is quoted as saying, “He started to call them names, saying they only come to do prostitution and a lot of other dirty things”.
Nangolo is the advisor to the Namibian minister for information and communication technology which makes the incident a diplomatic one. Officials in the two countries are now doing damage control which is not quite easy since the incident has already made rounds in the media in both countries.
Tourism in Africa is always full of surprises but no one would have expected harassment with a walking stick and being called names. If that were how tourists on safaris in Africa were welcomed every day, tourist numbers would most definitely be low. A situation which Namibia is trying to avoid, since that is not how tourist officials usually welcome guests. Tourism officials in Namibia will definitely be more careful about who gets to talk to their visitors.