By Lahja Nashuuta
The President of the Bundesrat of the Federal Republic of Germany who is also Minister-President of the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther has urged Namibia and the German government to speed up the negotiation process on the issue of German genocide committed against the Nama and Herero people in early 1900.
Günther who was accompanied by German business representatives from different economic sectors based in Schleswig-Holstein, was in Namibia for a five-day visit, where he met with the President Dr. Hage Geingob, as well as the chairperson and members of the National Council.
He further held talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Trade, Industry and SME Development, Hon. Tjekero Tweya, as well as the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi.
While addressing members of the National Council this week, Günther said while the two governments are engaging in constructive dialogue to find an amicable solution to the German colonial past, it is of importance to fast-track the process in order to put the issue to rest and proceed with economic development.
He further re-affirms that Germany is fully committed to these colonial responsibilities and ready to implement dialogue outcomes. Günther’s remarks are alternate to the statement made by the former German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian-Matthias Schlaga last year, who ruled out financial reparations to the descendants of Herero and Nama people killed between 1904 and 1908.
Schlaga was quoted by a local newspaper during an exclusive interview that Germany will not reconsider its position regarding offering financial compensation to Namibia, as any financial claim can only be made by those directly affected and not descendants as is the case in Namibia.
“We as countries at this time are divided and united by the dark history especially that of the atrocities committed by the people towards the Namas and Hereroes in the earlier 1900s.
This colonial past remain unforgotten and the consequences of the past crimes are still hurting the nation today” Günther said.
Günther who spoke through an interpreter acknowledged that the issue of genocide has divided the two nations and act as a barrier for countries to move on and focus on the issues of socio-economic development.
Günther said that Germany is committed to listen to the people of Namibia and find an amicable solution that will be able to unite the two states. He further invited the National Council to visit the Bundesrat of Germany, stating that the visit will provide the two nations the opportunity to continue engaging in dialogue that can unite them. Meanwhile the Swapo party chief whip in the National Council Lebbius Tobias, has express gratitude towards the government of Germany for being Namibia’s biggest development donor.
Lebbius said the involvement in the economic development has resulted not only in economic growth but has also helped in the reduction of poverty, in terms of the creation of employment, the promotion of good governance, gender equity, land reform, and the fight against HIV and AIDS.
German assistance has also helped the country to improve the sustainable use of natural resources, and foster economic development.
Lebbius said there is no doubt that Namibia continues to benefit from the substantial bilateral development assistance programme provided by Germany.
Lebbius further said that despite the milestones achieved by Namibia through the German assistance, the country is still faced with socio-economic issues such as high employment and drought, urging the German government to assist in this regard. Günther concluded his visit in Swakopmund, where the delegation met the Governor of the Erongo region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, the Mayor of Swakopmund, Paulina Ndahafa Nashilundu and Chief Executive Officer of the port operator NamPort, Kavin Harry. The delegates also visited the Memorial Park Cemetery and lay down wreaths.