Namibian Speaker Prof. Peter Katjavivi (middle) flanked by Namibian Ambassador to Germany, H.E. Andreas Guibeb (left) and Leader of the official opposition, Hon. Mchenry Venaani. On the extreme right is NUDO leader, Hon. Asser Mbai who formed part of the visit
|Story by George Sanzila
Berlin, Germany. Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi has implored the German Bundestag (Parliament) to reciprocate a gesture by their Namibian counterpart by creating a friendship group he feels would boost bilateral relations between the two legislatures and address issues of mutual concern.
Although the Namibian Parliament has a German-Namibian friendship group chaired by Government Chief Whip, Evelyn !Nawases Taeyele, the same has not happened for the German legislature that continues to deal with Namibian issues through a multilateral group of SADC countries.
The Namibian Speaker made the call in Berlin, Germany where he met various German politicians including the Minister of State for International Cultural Affairs, Michelle Muntefering and Klaus Dieter Grobler of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary group in the German Parliament. He is accompanied on the visit by an all-party delegation comprised of Mchenry Veenani (PDM), Asser Mbai (Nudo), Steve Bezuidenhout (RDP), Pendukeni Iivula Ithana (Swapo), Apius !Auchab (UDF) and Evelyn !Nawases Taeyele (Government Chief Whip).
The only African country currently enjoying parliamentary bilateral relations with German is Egypt. This, after German took a political decision to cooperate with countries as blocks to avoid the proliferation of friendship groups.
However, Speaker feels Namibia deserves special attention given the complex and historical past that characterize the relations between the two countries. He believes there’s a need for a platform by the two legislatures to engage exclusively over matters of mutual concern. “Parliament feels the need to elevate the relationship and work together. We need to negotiate in a manner that would not weaken but strengthen our relationship. We need to be bold in confronting the events of the past. The time has come to close this chapter. The friendship group would help in dealing with bilateral issues in a special way”, noted Katjavivi in reference to ongoing protracted genocide negotiations between the governments of the two countries.
Other Namibian politicians echoed similar sentiments noting that unlike in the past, conditions were now more favourable for engagements. Venaani stated that the two parliaments should play a critical part in the negotiations because they were forerunners having introduced a motion for the negotiation that was first tabled in the Namibian Parliament. “We have to heal the wounds of the past. It is important that a friendship group is created in order to lobby German MPs so that they speak with a unified voice against the injustices of the past. Namibia is a special case given our historical past. We have Germans Namibians that are said to be very wealth in Namibia than Germans here. Given the high Gini coefficient in Namibia, it tells you how special our relationship is and the need to dialogue before people starts uprising”, warned Venaani.
Former Minister of Home Affairs and now Swapo Member of Parliament, Iivula Ithana added that the time has come to harness the opportunity existing to conclude genocide negotiations. “If we don’t harness this opportunity, it would be too late for us. In the past, I remember attending meetings that were really bad. We cannot equate Namibia to SADC or North Africa. This is a special relationship”, argued Ithana.
Muntefering on her part noted that the issue of genocide was non-partisan in German and enjoyed priority and special attention and that effort is being made to further deepen parliament to parliament cooperation. The protracted negotiations emanate from the mass ethnic killings of the Hereros and Nama by the German colonial troops that took place between 1904 and 1908 following their uprising. More than 100 000 people were exterminated. Some of the victims were beheaded and their skulls sent to Germany purportedly for “scientific experiments”.
Katjavivi further commended, Muntefering for the role she played in the return of 27 human remains of the victims of the genocide last year. The remains comprised of 19 skulls, a scalp and bones were seized from Namibia over a century ago after the brutal killing of thousands of indigenous people in the genocide. Professor Katjavivi is leading a delegation of both MPs and Staff on a week-long study visit of the German Parliament meant to boost the operations of the Namibian legislature. The capacity building visit which started yesterday is at the invitation of the German Bundestag in cooperation with the Konrad Adeneur Stiftung.