By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Namibia’s sixteenth year of Independence, reparations for genocide victims by Germany, the problems of the San community and police brutality against citizens are some of the issues that were addressed by the National Executive Committee of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) over the weekend. CoD leader Ben Ulenga made this announcement on Monday during a press conference. “As we mark our nation’s 16th Independence anniversary the National Executive Committee wishes to congratulate the whole nation for the peace and stability that our country has enjoyed over the past 16 years of nationhood. We call upon all Namibians to continue to defend and jealously guard over our hard-won rights and freedoms, and to strive ever to advance, broaden and deepen our democracy,” said Ulenga. He urged all Namibians to ensure tolerance for the divergent opinions in society and to accept one another in each other’s political, ideological and cultural diversity. “The NEC would like to call upon Namibians to use the Independence commemoration to reflect critically on whether or not we have made sufficient progress over the past 16 years of our independent national existence. We encourage all citizens to rededicate and recommit themselves to the great ideals of genuine democracy, socio-economic justice, equality and prosperity for all. These are the ideals that inspired many sons and daughters of our motherland, who laid down their lives during the liberation struggle,” the CoD leader said. His party’s second highest decision-making body also expressed concerns over the country’s persistent poor economic performance, continuing poverty, unemployment and poor social conditions in which many Namibians still live. “We condemn the greed, maladministration, corruption and self-enrichment entrenched by the ruling party as the hallmark of our current society. The CoD leadership believes firmly that we can turn Namibia into a paradise in which all Namibians can live in prosperity, harmony, equality and peace. We urge the government to act and implement the Basic Income Grant as a matter of urgency in order to help alleviate poverty,” he said at the briefing that was also attended by the party’s secretary general Kalla Gertze, MP Elma Dienda and Caprivi exco-member Steven Mudengi at the party’s new headquarters in Schuster Street. According to Ulenga, the genocide perpetrated against the Ovaherero and Nama/Damara peoples by the Imperial German government during the patriotic war of resistance is an undeniable historical fact. “This sad and tragic fact cannot be wished away by anybody, nor can the nation, the survivors and the descendants of those who perished in the war both in Namibia and the Diaspora, ever forget this sad chapter in our history as a nation. The NEC reaffirms its position in favour of the fair and just demands for reparations and compensation for the victims of the genocide perpetrated by imperial Germany,” he said. In the party’s view, all victims of genocide have the right to reparations, no matter what nationality, race or pigmentation they are. “We appeal to both the Namibian and the Federal German governments to stop playing cat and mouse and to engage the representatives of the affected communities with the view to paying reparations and acceptable, just and fair compensation. We urge the Namibian government to stand by the affected communities and help negotiate for a proper and fair deal,” said Ulenga, who is of the opinion that compensation cannot be about a few Euros for projects lasting a couple of years. Compensation must be cash aimed at seriously redressing the socio-economic situation of the affected communities for the better and not piecemeal solutions through so-called projects. “We have noted the efforts government is applying in addressing the plight of the San community via the office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The San’s conditions have more than deteriorated during the last 16 years. It’s a big shame that the government has only after 16 years discovered the plight of the San people,” Ulenga charged. The exclusion of the San begins with the denial of land, hunting rights and other resources. “Government’s efforts should go beyond a mere self-seeking and political PR exercise because the problems of the San cannot be solved through granting school bursaries to one or two school girls. We call on the current administration to totally depart from all policy positions that tend to marginalise further any minority whether they are cultural, social or political minorities,” he asserted. The National Executive Committee also expressed concern over the disputed farmland in western Kavango and called the situation an ethnic time bomb waiting to explode. “We condemn the govern-ment’s lack of action against the illegal occupiers of the land. We call upon government to act immediately and implement its own directives and those directives of the Ukwangali traditional authority and the Kavango Regional land board without further deliberate delays. We also urge the cattle owners to respect the laws of the traditional authorities and remove their stock from the area for the sake of peace and stability in the country,” he pleaded. The CoD also condemned the actions of some members of the Namibian Police in different parts of the country. “The CoD leadership is particularly worried about the state of impunity, which exists with regard to police officers conducting themselves as if they are above the law of the country. Such police officials do not have a blank cheque to beat up citizens randomly. Their duty is to maintain law and order at all times. The CoD calls upon all Namibian citizens to report such cases of police abuse to the authorities for culprits to be brought to book,” he urged. In a separate statement by the party’s secretary general Kalla Gertze, the CoD also highlighted issues the party sees as challenges for the country. “Correcting the failing and ailing education system and academic development of our young people is a big challenge for all. Skills development, based on educational ethics, needs to be brought about if we are to save the whole infrastructure of the country. The free education system must be ensured by legislation and government must be forced to deliver the promise to the people,” the statement read in part. Other issues of concern elaborated upon by the statement include: the eradication of corrupt practices, the creation of an effective and efficient civil service, a reduction of the public service, the eradication of unemployment, a merit-based approach to governance, an innovative approach to the fight against HIV/AIDS and to unite Namibians across cultural and political differences.