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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2021

Sovereignty over diamond resources: (Re)-negotiating colonial contracts in Southern Africa

From the book Band 21 Cultural Sovereignty beyond the Modern State

  • Saima Nakuti Ashipala


About a quarter of a century ago, on 24 November 1994, the De Beers Group and the Namibian government formed the Namdeb Diamond Corporation, a 50/50 joint venture. This partnership was only the latest form of cooperation between De Beers and the colonial administration that preceded the Namibian government prior to independence in 1990. It is this practice of exploitation that earned the industry criticism from both the international community and the nationalists who called for Namibian independence. This essay traces the history of diamond mining in Namibia and the interrelationship with the diamond industry in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana and it looks at the diamond regimes that controlled diamond production in the territory from the colonial era into independence in relation to debates in favour of sovereignty over natural resources. The new arrangements are examined with the underlying question of how the principle of permanent sovereignty comes into play at the re-negotiation of ‘colonial contracts’ and what this phenomenal partnership generated for the newly independent states.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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