Let Us Be Decisive
Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab MP (Swapo Party)
BEFORE I take up topical matters relating to the status of the newly elected “SADC” candidate for chairpersonship (Presidency by others) of the African Union Commission, AU, I insist to offer my helping mind here. There is no “SADC Region” either in Addis Ababa or at the UN.
The official designation concerned here is the “Southern African Region.” Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius are members of SADC, but belong to the East African Region.
Dr Salim Ahmed Salim of Tanzania was the long-serving OAU Secretary-General. He was not representing SADC but his region. Now, we speak of the African Union and thus while the name changed, the historic recording continues. The incoming chairperson hails from the Southern African Region.
Next, just as the UN Secretary-General is not the “boss” of that organization, the chairman (pardon the old habit, it’s just that I don’t like to mess much with language) of the African Union cannot be expected to perform miracles over and above the Summit of Heads of State or Government, Ministers or Ambassadors. Ban-Ki Moon can’t do it without a mandate by the Security Council or the General Assembly. Those same reasons apply to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. We must aim at the leaders themselves of the African Union or Africa.
I write this opinion piece after reading the write-up in the New Era of 26 July 2012 by the illustrious upstart of the entire Herero community everywhere that I share lineage with. I speak of Dr Ngarikutuke Ernst Tjiriange, adamantly and even forever of the SWAPO Party, as well as of the Tanganyika Group. That the ANC’s golden protégé is amply qualified for the duties of the position she has assumed cannot be doubted. The track-record speaks both to the cosmos and the details of her professional life.
The specific concerns which Comrade Tjiriange is sharing with the readers and the general public are factually and historically correct. I, however, want to update my cousin on the specifics of the following points. First, on the very first day in April 1991 when my negotiating team arrived in Cape Town, we were received by Pik Botha and his delegation at the airport in Cape Town. The two of us, as foreign ministers, rode in his official car from the airport. It was during that ride that the De Klerk government’s policy decision to “give Walvis Bay to Namibia” was revealed to me “as a good neighbourly gesture”.
During the entire period (1989-1990) Pik and I held frequent meetings in Namibia and South Africa on Walvis Bay and other relevant foreign policy matters. We were no longer strangers, but collaborators. In other words, the government of the day at that time in Pretoria gave up Walvis Bay and the Offshore Island, subject to practical matters of respective ownership of specific things. In 1992, we set up a joint administration headed by Nangolo Mbumba and Carl Von Hirschberg respectively. That’s to say, the white, apartheid government did what the Namibians and the international community had been demanding for decades. The boers delivered!
Secondly, in the same vein, the Mandela Government, with F.W. de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki as joint Deputy Presidents, endorsed the previous policy commitment. It was during that period that the surveyors-general met and agreed on Orange River demarcation technicalities and reported back to their respective capitals. Dr Albert Kawana, who was the leader of our team has the dossier and knows the details.
Thirdly, it was during the Presidency of Thabo Mbeki (with Dlamini-Zuma as Foreign Minister) that the successfully advancing process was rudely and unceremoniously halted. That’s where the Orange River issue has run aground to this day. I, therefore, suggest that the readers must point the finger in the direction where the problem lies, namely the two successive governments of Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. The latter’s views on the matter, I really don’t know.
We can’t continue just blaming or questioning our South African comrades on this important issue ad finitum. The United Nations Security Council had declared in 1978 where Namibia’s Southern border lies. Let’s take action legally and be firm.