Mandela Kapere’s article in last Friday’s edition of New Era (23 February) should not remain unanswered, as it contains a deliberate misconstruction of facts which carries the risk to mislead his readers about Germany and its people.
So, to begin with, it is necessary to set the record straight.
During the meeting with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Namibia and Heads of Missions representing the European Union and some of its member states in Namibia, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Christian Schlaga did answer the Namibian President’s question how Germany contributes to fight structural social inequality in Namibia with, in essence, the following remarks:
“Within the framework of the development cooperation with Namibia, Germany committed herself to a financial contribution being the highest per capita in all of Africa. Thus, since Namibia’s independence, Germany financed numerous projects which contributed considerably to the economic and social development of Namibia and, thereby, contributed to the reduction of the structural social inequalities in this country.”
The German Ambassador never – neither during this meeting nor before – linked the subject of German development cooperation with the complex matter of what lessons Germany should draw from Germany’s colonial past during the years 1904-1907. This remains a completely different matter which is being dealt with within the framework of the bilateral negotiations between the governments of Namibia and Germany. This matter was, therefore, not even touched upon during the meeting with His Excellency the President of Namibia.
Today we add and confirm that yes, German development support has always been and will always be planned and implemented in agreement with our Namibian partners in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect and with the clear intention to contribute to building a more equitable and just society. This is, indeed, our vision for the future of the relations between Germany and Namibia, Germans and Namibians.
If Kapere, however, really regards Germany’s financial commitment to the people of Namibia as insulting and a proof of Germany’s disrespect towards the Namibian people then he should have the courage to stand up as a leading member of SWAPO to ask for a decision by the government of Namibia to stop this development cooperation with Germany.
But before he might do so he should talk to the thousands of people in Namibia, who are at the receiving end of Germany’s development contributions, to find out what they – the beneficiaries – think of the cooperation with
Germany and Germans:
• go and talk to the young boys and girls at the Auas Primary School in Khomasdal, who only recently moved into new classrooms financed by Germany;
• go and talk to the civil engineering students at the new Department of Civil Engineering at the UNAM campus in Ongwediwa financed largely by Germany;
• go and talk to the young girls living in the newly constructed buildings and using the new equipment of the “Girls Centre” in Katutura to empower themselves through sport and vocational training;
• go and talk to the girls and boys living in the Johanniter Student Hostel in Otavi financed and continuously supported by Germany and Germans: where day in day out, 100 young Namibians live, get three meals a day, engage in social activities and are being prepared and helped to excel in in their school career;
• go and talk to the MET-staff (rangers and park wardens) finally living and working in decent and up-to-standard facilities of the park stations in the Khaudum National Park and the Nkasa Rupara National Park – to mention just a few – constructed with Germany’s support.
• go and talk to the traditional leaders and members of numerous conservancies, who receive substantial support from Germany to develop their institutions and to create jobs and income in regions where hardly any investment takes place;
• go and talk to managers and workers of companies involved in “labour intensive road construction” financed with German grants creating jobs and income in remote rural areas;
• go and talk to the many Namibian students receiving various scholarships to further their studies to prepare for a successful and productive work life;
• go and talk to the young Namibians studying at vocational training institutions profiting from the substantial support Germany provides for the improvement of vocational training in Namibia;
• go and talk to the members of the Namibian Defense Forces, who participate in vocational training projects in the fields of mechanical engineering and health services supported by Germany.
Those are just a few examples of how the German-Namibian development cooperation does help to improve the education, the employability, the living and income conditions and thus the life of thousands of Namibians. We are, indeed, convinced that this is the essence of what empowerment means; that this is the essence of what is needed to reduce the still existing social inequality in the medium and long run.
So, once he has talked to all those Namibians eye-to-eye and he then still maintains that Germany’s development cooperation is an insult to Namibia and its people then he can call for an end of this cooperation. Otherwise, it would be in the interest of the people, the country as well as the good Namibian-German relations for him and all like-minded persons to refrain from further commenting on the German-Namibian development cooperation in such a derogatory and preposterous manner.
And to close, all those who would like to know more about the essence and the spirit of the on-going negotiations on “reconciliation” between the governments of Namibia and Germany might want to start by reading the interview given by the head of the Namibian delegation, Dr Zed Ngavirue, to New Era and published on February 9, 2018.
This response is from the German Embassy in Windhoek