Schlettwein draws the line

Schlettwein draws the line
Schlettwein draws the line

Africa-PressNamibia. The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, demands the withdrawal of references by members of mainly the political factions amongst the Ovaherero strongholds of opposition parties, to stop insulting him and fellow Namibians as the “German speaking Namibians.”

Significantly, it was the first time that a descendent from German imperial government addressed the genocide issue in Namibian parliament. “It is a personal insult. It is intended to spew hate and it is the worst form of racism,” a visibly irritated Schlettwein, who is known for not losing his composure, said in response to a barrage of interjections, mainly from the PDM’s Vipuakuje Muharukua.

At one stage, an LPM backbencher hysterically shouted through her trademark banging of hands on the benches, “We are coming for you!” The LPM leader, Bernadus Swartbooi, already threatened international court action to compel Germany to pay reparations, while one of the most senior Swapo leaders, former deputy minister and diplomat, Kaire Mbuende the past weekend expressed doubt on any further legal routes.

Mbuende instead advised the factions who attended the Von Trotha-genocide order in Aminius to rather support the Swapo motion and keep on negotiating with a new German government that is yet to be formed after the recent elections.

All expectations are that the Kapofi-genocide-motion has run its parliamentary course and re-established the National Assembly as institution for debate and law making and might be brought to vote this week.

The expectation is that the motion will be adopted as only a simple majority is needed for it to pass. The debate resumes tomorrow with the opposition firebrands already contributing in a sometimes chaotic and emotional debate with Swapo members.

Some of the affected communities have by now pushed back and joined forces with the royal and traditional houses of the Ovaherero and Nama people to accept the progress the Namibian Government has made so far and stay clear on the amount claimed and offered, since “no value can be put to lives lost.”

The Kapofi-motion forced a debate when additional parliamentarians joined the fray and left out various other affected groups. Kapofi tabled the motion as a ranking member of Swapo before and after Independence. He served three presidents before being deployed in various ministries, including his incumbent Ministry of Defence.

The Kapofi-motion intends to first brief the national assembly on what was achieved by the Namibian Government in dealing with the Federal Government of Germany and to get the input of members of all parties in parliament in what is found to be a concept agreement.

Kapofi in his tabling of the motion stressed that Swapo is seeking a genuine non-partisan discussion and the hope is that the National Assembly will direct the executive (President Hage Geingob) on the way forward.

Schlettwein, as respected and self-confessed descendant of those who committed the atrocities said the Namibian-German agreement on genocide and reparations is a challenge in how Namibians relate to each other.

“I want to start my intervention by recognising that I am a descendant of the colonising nation, Imperial Germany, a nation that committed genocide and inflicted unimaginable suffering on Namibian people. I personally realised relatively early in my life that a system of racial segregation and racial oppression is grossly unjust and incompatible with a free and enjoyable life for all. I therefore joined my comrades in Swapo in the struggle for freedom, liberty and justice before independence. The fact that Swapo embraced me, made me one of them, without asking which race, which tribe, or which creed I belong to, gave me the hope and courage to join the struggle for my country of birth to be free, with equal rights for all her people,” he said.

Schlettwein quoted Geingob’s famous conciliatory remarks: “By safeguarding the rights of all Namibians under this Constitution, we are taking another crucial step forward, one step away from the divisions of yesteryear and one step towards the creation of an all-inclusive society.”

Schlettwein reminded members of the National Assembly that it was in fact the Namibian Government under President Hifikepunye Pohamba who then directly approached the German Chancellor Madame Angela Merkel, reminding her of the unfinished business.

Schlettwein conceded that the discussion between the governments clearly confirmed that today, Namibians still suffer from the consequences of the genocide of 1904-07, which had severe and multiple impacts on the most affected groups, but also on groups and individuals other than the Nama and Ovaherero.

Schlettwein also clarified the points of agreement by all parties, including Swapo, that the offer from Germany to pay a quantum of 1.1 billion euros over a period of 30 years is not anywhere close to what had initially been proposed.

“We too, believe that should be renegotiated,” he said, adding “We can become a nation only if we recognise that Namibia belongs to all of us; all of us must continue to fight against inequality, together. It is crucial that we maintain an inclusive approach, it is pivotal to make sure that no one is left out. Divide and rule approaches only fuel conflict and disunity. We know it, we experienced it. We fought all oppressive regimes. I therefore firmly stand by the government that I am part of in its steadfast upholding of the constitutionally entrenched principles of equality by negotiating a deal for all Namibians, albeit with emphasis on the most affected groups. Development based reparations as proposed in the initialised declaration would create gains and economic opportunities for all Namibians, while focusing them on a specific set of activities in only those regions where the most affected groups live.”

Schlettwein continued: “Let us not be led by hatred, but by respecting each other. Let us not be blinded by short-term material gain, but let us strive for long lasting peace without which any dream of prosperity will remain a pipe dream.” The debate will continue tomorrow and will again be broadcasted live on Informanté News.


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