“For too long our German friends have avoided dealing with the issue of genocide in Namibia,” National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi told his counterpart from the German Bundestag yesterday, as calls for a solution to the issue continue to intensify.
The President (Speaker) of the German Bundestag, Professor Norbert Lammert, accompanied by the German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga, met with Katjavivi yesterday morning at parliament. Lammert is in the country on a private visit.
Matters of mutual interest – particularly the unresolved genocide issue – were discussed. The Speakers also compared and exchanged notes with regard to presiding over parliamentary proceedings.
German colonialists in then German South West Africa launched a campaign of extermination and collective punishment against the indigenous Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908, following the infamous extermination order issued by General Lothar von Trotha.
A large number of OvaHerero and Nama died from starvation and thirst in the desert, while many others were hung, shot and died in concentration camps.
Katjavivi said the two countries have entered a new period, which requires a re-appraisal of the past. “This new rethinking calls for a collective resolve to move the dialogue forward on the basis of finding a lasting solution to the painful past in our common history,” he said.
He stressed that the search for a lasting solution would require “commitment and determination on the part of all stakeholders involved.”
Although the two governments are already seized with the matter, Katjavivi pointed out that the two parliaments have an important role to play, saying: “Our two parliaments must continue playing a complimentary role and create conducive environments that allow constructive dialogue to take place, as well as engage in confidence building measures, so as to help move the dialogue process between our two governments.”
Katjavivi is optimistic that the broad-based coalition government in Germany may offer an opportunity to ensure consensus is reached on the issue. “This [genocide] is still a burning issue, begging for a satisfactory outcome,” he said.
After meeting Katjavivi Lammert headed to the parliamentary office of the official opposition, DTA, where he held closed-door talks with party president McHenry Venaani. Venaani described Germany as a benchmark for developing nations, especially when it comes to vocational training.
“Your economy is thriving in Europe, because of the strong [economic] foundation created, coupled with the fact that small businesses are driven by vocational training,” he said.
Like Katjavivi, Venaani also called for a lasting solution to the unresolved genocide issue, while at the same time calling for tripartite discussions between the two governments and the affected communities in order to find a lasting solution.