Call for Reconciliation Policy

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK THE Forum for the Future (FFF) is urgently calling for a written policy of national reconciliation to guide the citizens and communities in their interactions with one another. While different countries have formulated their own models of national reconciliation, the Namibian model should suit its own particular situation. FFF said in a statement yesterday that the Namibian model should define national reconciliation as a process of promoting harmonious relationships and unity among citizens who have emerged from a situation of conflict, division, hatred, propaganda, fear and mutual suspicion. Samson Ndeikwila, FFF Coordinator said for the country to have a written policy on national reconciliation, preparatory work needs to be done by civil society, citing the Tuhungileni Project of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) as an ideal instrument to spearhead the initiative. He suggested that after the preparatory work, legal experts should draft a memorandum on the proposed policy on National Reconciliation after which Parliament would debate it and enact it into law. Truth, said the statement, should be the foundation for the policy as historically truth has demonstrated that it illuminates the hidden areas in the past, present and helps to see the way ahead. The truth would, according to FFF, demand a balanced picture about the country’s colonial past and post colonial history, which covers 30 years of German colonial rule, 70 years of South African administration, including 40 years of formal apartheid, 30 years of the independence struggle including 23 years of the armed struggle inside and outside the country as well as 16 years of independence. The policy should be governed by clearly defined principles, namely leadership, unity in diversity, mediation, hard work as well as narrowing the gap between the rich and poor. While the leadership principle teaches that only unifying and empowering leadership can lead a country to genuine national reconciliation and unity, unity in diversity teaches the equality of all citizens, in the sense that there are no superior or inferior races and tribes. “It emphasises that a reconciled nation allows its members to do things differently yet with the utmost respect for one another,” said Ndeikwila. The principle of unity in diversity would also encourage population groups to develop, promote their languages, traditions, and other cultural heritages to enrich the Namibian collective identity while helping Namibians to transcend racism, ethnicity, parochial politics, gender bias, religious bigotry and church denominationalism. As for mediation, Ndeikwila said the principle would acknowledge that disputes occur where people and communities interact and if not handled carefully, disputes would escalate into conflicts. Namibia, said he, needs its own national eminent persons who could be trusted to mediate, for instance in the current grazing conflict between the Kwangali and Ovambo communal farmers. Apart from this, the mediators would also help resolve the dispute that is currently brewing in the national trade union movement, said Ndeikwila. The principle of narrowing the poor-rich gap would look into ways to address the situation through a number of methods such as universal distribution of income through the proposed basic income grant, land reform, giving quotas such as fishing to communities and individuals, and transforming the education system. Some of the many ways which FFF says the education system could be transformed, are by improving the quality of education at all levels; investing more resources in the quality training of teachers; expanding and investing more resources in vocational training institutions; depoliticising the appointment of teachers and lecturers and establishing regional institutions of higher learning, which would among others include the expansion and elevation of the university campus at Oshakati to a fully-fledged national university, autonomous and independent of the University of Namibia.