Future operations

WINDHOEK/BERLIN/KINSHASA | | namibia

WINDHOEK/BERLIN/KINSHASA (Own report) - Namibia, under German pressure, is renouncing on an acceleration of the land reform and has decided against the interests of the majority black population. The extremely inequitable apportionment of arable land derives from the German colonial era. Some in the Namibian government had demanded that a more rapid break with this past be made - in vain. Berlin has, since some time, been warning against an acceleration of the land reform, that would reduce the power of the white big landowners. Numerous descendants of German colonialists are among the economic elite of the country. Namibia is one of the special spheres of interest of German foreign policy in southern Africa. The German government recently assured, with large sums, the upgrading of the Walvis Bay harbor. Walvis Bay is the only deep sea harbor on the Southern African West Coast. It serves as a commercial turnstile for the neighboring states. Walvis Bay is also used by German warships. Joint maneuvers with the Namibian military, which have been supported by the German Bundeswehr since 1992, are not considered out of the question. The European militarization of Africa is being accelerated.

Recommendable

As Namibia's information minister explained last week, the government in Windhoek will continue, unaltered, the land reform policy based on "willing buyer, willing seller," voluntary land sales by big landowners. Since Namibia achieved its independence in 1990, land reform, with which the extremely inequitable distribution of the arable land is to be extenuated, holds a constitutional status.[1] But since large sectors of the population see its implementation as sluggish, the Vice-Minister for Lands and Resettlement recently demanded an acceleration. This was during a state visit in Zimbabwe, whose government has not spared the large estates of the colonialists' descendants.[2] Zimbabwe is therefore confronted with western threats. The "speed" of Zimbabwe's land reform is "recommendable" and Namibia could "do it in the same way", suggested the Namibian Vice-Minister.[3] The statement provoked soon afterwards the Namibian information Ministry to make known, that there had been "misunderstanding".

Retarding

The Windhoek government's reaction was in response to strong pressure from Berlin. For years Germany has pretended to promote the Namibian land reform through so-called development assistance funds. But in fact these moneys do not actually serve the purpose of buying private farm land, to put them at the disposal of the redistribution policy, but rather it benefits infrastructure projects on local government estates. Just this past May, the German government allocated another 5.12 million Euros for these projects. In this way Berlin retards the transfer of land to poor farmers and protects the white landowners, often descendants of German conquerors.

Warning

The assumption of legal titles and the airs of a protecting power, on behalf of their colonial clients, are diplomatic instruments in the Berlin government's arsenal. "We greatly hope that you will continue to pursue your land reform within the structures of rule-of-law", the German President Koehler warned the Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, at a State banquet last November, as the Namibian was a guest in the German capital.[4]

Compatriots

The German President's diplomatic affront is but one in a series of earlier coercion attempts, with which Berlin's leading politicians seek to obtain a special status for the elite German colonial heirs. For example, in September 1995, during a visit to Namibia, Helmut Kohl, chancellor at that time, insisted upon holding a special reception for the representatives of German-language associations - in spite of his hosts' misgivings. In the presence of the Namibian head of state, Kohl addressed the ethnic German Namibians as "dear compatriots".[5] Three years later Roman Herzog, German President, at the time, provoked an eclat, when he admonished Windhoek's language policy. German colonial descendants were not in favor of the intended equating of all local Idioms. Berlin sees the threat to their privileged linguistic status as an "injustice".[6] This policy is focused toward a minority, whose economic and cultural clout, makes it suitable as an instrument of influence.

Preferred

Berlin has consistently ranked the former German colony among its special spheres of interest in Southern Africa. The German Government wants to expand trade relations with Namibia, from where particularly copper and chrome ore could be imported.[7] In addition the country has a deep sea harbor (Walvis Bay) - ameliorated with German development funds - which is considered to be one of the best freight-capable ports in all of Africa. As recent as last May, Berlin promised another credit amounting to 30 million Euros. Walvis Bay has developed into the commercial turnstile for all of Southern Africa. German shipping companies preferentially drop anchor in Walvis Bay. The port is situated closer to Europe, than the harbors in South Africa, and permits a faster freight transfer - not only for civilian consumption.

Junior Partner Number One

German warships entered the Namibian deep sea harbor already in 1996. "It was the first visit of a German naval unit (...) since World War I", the German-language Namibian Press recently wrote.[8] Since then, German warships have anchored several times in Walvis Bay. The last to anchor in the harbor were three naval ships last February, who stopped off on their way to a joint German/South African military maneuver which was held off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. The Bundeswehr explains that the objective was to create "a common basis for future operations".[9] The Republic of South Africa, the predominating power south of the Sahara, is seen in the role of a junior partner for the implementation of pro-Western policies in all parts of the continent. Since quite some time the South African navy has been equipped with German ships.

Junior Partner Number Two

Namibia is also suitable for a partnership similar to that with South Africa. Since the early 90s, Berlin has been supporting the Namibian armed forces with equipment and training measures; this is an "expression of German foreign, security and politico-military interests", confirms the Ministry of Defense in response to inquiries from german-foreign-policy.com.[10] As can be heard from naval circles, joint maneuvers in the future with the Namibian army are not to be excluded.[11]

Becoming Recognizable

The extension of German military influence is an aspect of the intensifying competition for access to raw materials on the African continent and is meant to limit that access to rivals. In the re-partition of Africa, the industrial powers involved, are building on their still existing colonial ties. The racist policy of the German empire appears comparatively tolerable, to that of the colonial crimes committed by its European competitors, permitting Berlin to assume the role of an innocent central power, for the time being.[12] As the events leading to the occupation of the Congo documents [13], the German Africa policy is maturing to the point of becoming recognizable.

[1] In den Berichten des Entwicklungsprogramms der Vereinten Nationen (UNDP) wird Namibia als das Land mit der ungleichsten Verteilung seines Reichtums weltweit genannt. See also "Äußerste Geringschätzung"
[2] see also Alles oder nichts, Ein krimineller Plan and Rückschläge
[3] Katali verteidigt Simbabwe-Modell. Vizeminister für Ländereien und Neusiedlung wirft der NLU Verzögerungstaktik vor; Allgemeine Zeitung Namibia 31.05.2006
[4] Rede von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler anläßlich des Staatsbanketts zu Ehren von Präsident Pohamba am 28.11.2005 im Schloss Charlottenburg
[5], [6] Henning Melber: "Wir haben überhaupt nicht über Reparationen gesprochen". Die namibisch-deutschen Beziehungen: Verdrängung oder Versöhnung?, in: Jürgen Zimmerer, Joachim Zeller (Hg.): Völkermord in Deutsch-Südwestafrika, Berlin 2003
[7] Beziehungen zwischen Namibia und Deutschland; Länder- und Reiseinformationen des Auswärtigen Amts
[8] Marineversorger Westerwald besucht zum dritten Mal Namibia; Allgemeine Zeitung Namibia 19.01.2006
[9] Über die Übung; www.luftwaffe.de
[10] see also Truppen in "Deutsch-Südwest"
[11] Drei Kriegsgiganten auf Höflichkeitsbesuch; Allgemeine Zeitung Namibia 16.02.2006
[12] Dieses verbreitete Urteil hält einer historischen Überprüfung nicht stand. Lesen Sie dazu unsere Rezension des Buches Völkermord in Deutsch-Südwestafrika.
[13] see also The Sun is Red Over the Congo, We Will Burn Some... and Ein doppeltes Spiel