|This interview aired on
Sunday, June 11, 2000 on ABC-TV's “Like it Is” hosted by Gil Noble.
The show is aired weekly in the New York Metropolitan area. This
transcript was provided by All News (1- 800-ALL-NEWS) and it is reprinted
with their permission.
Namibia, once known as Southwest Africa, was a protectorate of Germany in the late 19th century, after which it was placed under the jurisdiction of the then-minority white racist regime of South Africa. After a long and brutal fight for independence, led by the Southwest African People's Organization, SWAPO, Namibia is now free.
This nation, about twice the size of California, faces problems like land reform. Roughly 44 percent of the land is reportedly still owned by 4,000 white farmers. Also, Namibia is one of the world's prime sources of high-quality diamonds, and recently huge deposits of natural gas and oil have been discovered.
The question is, who will benefit most from Namibia's fabulous wealth, Namibians or outsiders?
Those issues and more coming up with the prime minister.
HAGE GEINGOB, Prime Minister of Namibia: Thank you very much, Gil
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, I'm here meeting a very powerful delegation to the United Nations summit dealing with the Beijing conference. That was a conference held five years ago in Beijing dealing with gender issues. And we're trying to evaluate and see what measures different countries have taken to improve the woman's participation in all spheres of political life, economic, and so on.
So it's a report-back session, and we are doing that at the U.N.
GIL NOBLE: I don't know how much of an issue it is in Namibia, but attention has been drawn to female circumcision. Is that something that is a part of the talks that your delegation is participating in?
HAGE GEINGOB: No, it's not a factor in our country.
GIL NOBLE: It is not, it doesn't happen?
HAGE GEINGOB: No, it doesn't happen. But if it happened, it may be a very, very isolated instance, but it's not a practice. But in some parts of Africa, it is still a problem.
GIL NOBLE: All right. Let's talk about the business of Namibia. I remember the last time I saw you, you told me that the struggle to become an independent nation was not nearly as difficult as running an independent nation. Do you still hold to that?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, I still hold to that. You see, when you are waging a liberation struggle, your enemy is clearly identified. You know your enemy. You are fighting against colonialism. But after independence, you have to now have a balancing act. It calls for leadership, actually, that even your former enemies become subjects, and they need your protection. They need you to provide them with jobs and training. And then you have different aspects of ethnic and regional interest.
So a leader is called upon in modern African situations to now balance, to have exclusive in a government. The government is now becoming a partnership where you have to involve all the stakeholders, citizens, that is. If you are going to exclude some parts, it's going to tear it down through the -- some kind of uprisings and so on.
So in a partnership, you must be exclusive -- inclusive, inclusive, and you must be transparent in how you run the country, and be accountable to those people. Once you do that, some kind of trust will develop, and they will now trust you and now allow you to do what you are supposed to do to run the country. It's very difficult.
GIL NOBLE: But there's an old saying that there can be no major surgery without pain, and there has been an inequity, going back to when it was Southwest Africa, of land ownership. And so to rectify that, some people in Namibia are going to have to be inconvenienced who are from Europe.
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes, yes, you see, the land question is sometimes misunderstood in Europe and other parts of the world. The struggle for liberation, the liberation war that we were waging, was about land. We were telling our fighters simply that, "Fight and free your land, fight and free your country."
So obviously after we have freed the country, people want their land. They say, "Where is the land we fought for? You told us we are fighting for our land." Now it calls for leadership qualities that will now -- because you now have to be fair to all the citizens who are living in that country.
You -- now we articulate the policy, national policy, of reconciliation. You know, it's a very sad situation that today there are my colleagues, ministers, who are sitting in the cabinet, all who had been in a situation where a person was torturing them, the policeman who was torturing them will be sitting there, and they are joking, saying, Do you remember that day when you were torturing me, and I had this pain? and so on. And they laugh.
That's Africa. You only hear about bad things Africans do. But such heart that you can forgive your enemy, somebody who was torturing, about to kill you, and you are saying, Brother, let's live together in this country.
We have done that because we are a political power, and we brought about national reconciliation, saying, Let's hold hands. But we are also saying that you have the power over economy and the land. Come also halfway and meet us so we can also reconcile at the level of land and economy.
GIL NOBLE: And what has their response been?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, I must say, we in Namibia had a land conference at our [unintelligible] in '90, '91, from the outset of our independence, knowing land was the banner issue. At that conference, we deliberated on, we brought all the sectors of our society, and we had interpretations in six languages so that everybody must understand. We were saying those who are land-greedy must come and tell us why they are greedy about land, and those who are land-hungry must also come and tell us why they are so hungry.
It was a beautiful gathering. People discussed openly. And we had some conclusions at the end. One, we had difficulty about the ancestral land question. We said, "Who is really the proper owner of the land?" That's very difficult to decide on that. So we said, "OK, that is not possible to practice, to implement, so let's shelve it, let's leave it, and go on to other issues, usage of land, ownership, and so on."
After long, long debate, we decided, in the spirit of reconciliation, compromise, again. We are the only ones who are compromising, it seems. So we had to agree to share the land. And our constitution is very clear that there's a protection of property rights, and land is also included in that clause of property.
So we are saying, OK, willing buyer, willing seller concept will apply. And we have been buying land. And while we are doing that as leaders, our people -- we are becoming very unpopular. Our people are saying, During the -- this government, you are telling us not to buy stolen goods, like a television set is stolen. We are saying, don't buy stolen goods. But why are you buying stolen goods like land?
GIL NOBLE: That's a tough question to answer.
HAGE GEINGOB: That's a very tough question. But leadership is there to provide [unintelligible], [unintelligible]. So you have to tell them, you have to guide them in the direction they don't want to go to. Then you are a leader. So we are saying, Look, this is very important. If you are going to start a war again, you can't talk about the land. You can't -- you see, war, what the war does to innocent and weaker population, the women and children, the war isn't a good thing. So if you have peace, idea is to maintain that peace.
GIL NOBLE: All right. Let me interrupt you at this point, Mr. Prime Minister. We need to take a break. We'll be back right after this.
GIL NOBLE: Mr. Prime Minister, before we proceed on this discussion of land, I just wanted to ask you, in your struggle for nationhood, what role did Cuba play?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, we have been supported, as you know, by international community, Europe, many of you in America, you know, were supporting us. But when it really came to deciding which way Namibia will go, Cuban participation was crucial, because what forces Africa to implement Resolution 435 was the decisive battle at a place called Cuito-Cuanavate. That place is in Angola, not in Namibia. There you had forces, Cuban forces, SWAPO, and Angolan forces fighting side by side against South Africans. It's the Cuban air power and so on that actually make South Africa to surrender, so to say.
So we also admire them, that they have been in Africa, in Angola, where we were operating from, and have come to known them, suffering there side by side with their Angolan and Namibian brothers, and definitely in Namibia's question, that battle was decisive. And I will say definitely, it's because of that that today I am a prime minister.
GIL NOBLE: Let's proceed with this discussion of land. The criticisms that you quoted at the end of the last segment seem to ring true. Why give money to somebody who -- for land that they did not pay for themselves? And if it is right to give them money for land that they didn't pay for, isn't it right to give money to the people who they got the land from in the first place?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, you see, the problem is, you are dealing with the issue that is maybe 100 years old. Now if somebody came and stole the land 100 years ago, that person is dead by now. Now, are you going to visit the sins of the fathers to the child? If a child was born on that land, and that person was born on Namibian soil, he didn't come from Europe or she didn't come from Europe, now the issue you have to decide as a leader is, are you going to say that child, a white child, who was born at that farm, doesn't have any protection from Namibian constitution? That's one issue.
I also always add to same that, is black child -- I was a child once in a while -- this black child was also born on Namibian soil, but I was born -- it's a -- this is a true story -- I was born at the farm of a white person.
GIL NOBLE: Really.
HAGE GEINGOB: And I don't have any right as kick out from there. Right now that farm is there, I'm back now as a prime minister, I know the place I was born. It's not mine. I want to buy it, I have to buy some other place to go, it's not mine, it's somebody else's property.
Now, that's a reality also. I am saying, we cannot punish the child because the father stole the land. So we are saying, let's also reconcile. I talk to the white people who own the land. I have been going around, and I said, "My brothers and sisters, if you own 10 farms, one person, if you own 65,000 hectares of land -- multiply by two or three, you could get the acres, you can get the size that we're talking about. This is true, we are not making problems, these are realities."
And I would say, "Why don't you just give 10,000 hectares of land to your people, your brothers and sisters, who are working on that land, together with you? Some were born there, and they work until they are useless, old."
GIL NOBLE: What do they say?
HAGE GEINGOB: They said, "I have my constitutional rights, constitutional rights." And I said, My dear, that constitution that I was the author of is written in English, English. And maybe only about 1 percent of Namibians speak English. If you are using that as your protection, you are making a mistake. It's not yet internalized. The Namibians, like Americans, say, I plead to the Fifth Amendment, they can't do that yet, they aren't yet that educated and that informed, or have internalized that constitution to use it as protector.
I gave them example of one king somewhere in Africa, wanted to do something, and bureaucrats came and told him, "No, your majesty, you cannot do it." And he said, "Why? Because the constitution says so." They said, "Oh." The second day, he wanted to do the same thing, and they said again, "Bring that constitution," he said. They brought the paper. He said, "This paper is stopping me, King So-and-so, not to do what I want to do." And he tore the constitution and threw it out and said, Now I can do what I want to do. The bureaucrats said, The king suspended the constitution.
Now, that's a paper. I respect the paper. That's why we struggled to draft it. But it has to be internalized that all of us can die by it, not yet.
So I told them that, and I said, Now, let's not talk about the paper, the rights. Rights have to be learned and people have to accept them. But it's a two-way street. Rights are not only for you. How about me? I was born on the land of Namibia, which I don't own today. And if we talk about reconciliation, why is it a one-way street? We must always have balance.
GIL NOBLE: Where are the discussions now?
HAGE GEINGOB: Discussions are that in our case, we respect the law, as a country governed by law, even if it is maybe unjust -- that's another element. Question of justice. We are buying the land. When we are buying the land, although other people are opposed to that -- and you also little bit laugh, I see that -- we buy the land. The moment the land owners realize that we set aside money to buy the land, prices shot up.
GIL NOBLE: Let me interrupt. It's time for another break, while I digest what you just said. Wow.
GIL NOBLE: Mr. Prime Minister, has there been any squatting on lands that are held by people of European origin in Namibia?
HAGE GEINGOB: No, no.
GIL NOBLE: No?
HAGE GEINGOB: No.
GIL NOBLE: How does it sit with you, what's going on in Zimbabwe, and how -- do you support what Mr. Mugabe is saying?
HAGE GEINGOB: What I said at the meeting where President Mugabe was there, and my president, we were observing our new day, our liberation day, 25th of May. And they addressed the rallies, [unintelligible] rally, the two presidents. And I was asked to express the vote of thanks.
What I have said is that what is happening in Zimbabwe is -- should be a wakeup call for Namibians, it's a wakeup call, a wakeup call in the sense that we want to follow the constitution. And it's a wakeup call also to the world, because we are buying the land, we have now just amended our law to set up the fund, to raise fund also from Germany, from Europeans, who have [unintelligible] or they are cousins there.
Now, even Zimbabweans are saying that. At the Lancaster House Conference, there was an agreement that British will give money to buy land. Americans also are going to pledge. That money didn't come, Zimbabweans are saying. Then they have again a conference to restate the fact, and they are saying that money didn't come. And we thought it was not true, but British government confirmed, and they are saying, they have now 36 million pounds, but they are putting their conditions.
So I'm not going to talk about Zimbabwe, but I'm talking about the land question in Namibia, which is similar. And we are saying, "We are buying the land. Help us to buy the land so we can solve the problem constitutionally and legally, so that Namibians who were robbed of their land can at least get it back by us as leaders, because in the interests of peace and reconciliation, buying the stolen goods."
While we are becoming unpopular with our people, we take that risk, but help us to buy the land so that we can settle our people. Because settling them we must do. Otherwise, we are sitting on a powder keg.
GIL NOBLE: Aside from the money issue, has there been an opportunity for those who have been disenfranchised under the old regime to now own land? Has there been land reform? Has there been Africans in Namibia farming and owning land now? Has there been a change?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, the change is effected through what I have just described. And yes, there are Africans who are owning land. There are Africans who are also living in what was formerly so-called homelands. That land is state land, and they are on that land. But it's not enough. So that's why we are saying--
GIL NOBLE: I see.
HAGE GEINGOB: --we must help those areas also to be developed, we must train people, we must extend credit facilities to them, because it's no use to have a land and see it--
GIL NOBLE: That's right.
HAGE GEINGOB: --[unintelligible] say, It's my land, it must be productive.
GIL NOBLE: Right.
HAGE GEINGOB: You must be able to feed yourself--
GIL NOBLE: Right.
HAGE GEINGOB: --and feed the nation. Now, if you're only just going to grab it and you sit on it, there will be no productivity. The country's going to starve, see. So we are trying to combine all these things, these elements, training, credit facilities to be extended, and then extension services also to be extended, so that the people who are buying the land, and those whom we are settling on the farms. We have a criteria, first take those who were in exile, those who fought, must be the first ones to be settled. Then those who were disadvantaged in the struggle, second category. And then the last time you can settle the rest.
So in that way, we are settling, we're settling people, but we discovered that they are unproductive. So we have to give them training, some kind of [unintelligible] backstopping, so that they can be productive. That's our approach.
GIL NOBLE: OK. Let's talk about diamonds. There are one or two diamonds, I hear, in Namibia, and my question is, who owns the land where these diamonds are being mined? Is it owned by private individuals? Is it owned by the government?
HAGE GEINGOB: One good thing with the resources, it's that even if you own the land, the resources under the land are state owned.
GIL NOBLE: Really?
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes.
GIL NOBLE: So it's only what's on the surface.
HAGE GEINGOB: Only what is on surface. So once we discover anything underneath, you have to -- it's the state property, you have to then apply for license.
GIL NOBLE: All right. I understand that the major corporation operating in the diamond mines is DeBeers?
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes.
GIL NOBLE: Yes. What kind of arrangement, economic or financial arrangements, do you have with DeBeers?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, believe it or not, DeBeers approach us after independence to have a 50-50 partnership. And we were really suspicious, to say the least. We said, in this era of privatization, how can a major company ask the government to have shares? So we took about two years before we could really consent to that request.
And after we started, the situation, the availability of the diamonds -- because we thought they wanted to just give us the empty shell at the end and say, That's your property, and leave us with debts.
So we did a study, a due diligence kind of a study, and came up that, yes, the diamonds are still there. But they wanted to apparently have us for protection, and also to protect, to prevent theft that is going on, and also strikes from Africans, they thought. So we must go and discipline the Africans. That's what I think was one of the reasons.
But we are, on a serious note, on a 50-50 basis, and it's a relationship that is still new, and we are now renegotiating the second phase. We are going to be tough with them, because in the first five years, I -- my personal feeling is that they didn't take us seriously as partners.
GIL NOBLE: I asked you before we began taping this question, and I'm going to ask it on camera. Fifty percent of what, the net or the gross?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, you caught me there, you see. I was telling you, I replied to you by saying, it's just like these guys in the shops here who are saying, Fifty percent off. They don't tell you 50 percent off what. So it's the same thing. Same thing.
So it's true, they are the ones who are mining, they declare the goods, as they call them, what they have. So [unintelligible], my doubts are still there, whether we are getting our fair share.
GIL NOBLE: Do you--
HAGE GEINGOB: Oh, and we are placing some kind of inspectors.
GIL NOBLE: Ah.
HAGE GEINGOB: We did the same with the fishing industry. Again, there was plundering going on, and we had to use crude methods, if you want to put it that way. We wanted to arrest the Spanish, you know, vessels, which were plundering our resources, and we approached their police, regular police force to join us to arrest these people by dropping them from helicopters. And they said, That is unheard-of, it's dangerous.
So we went to our former guerrillas. We got them, we gave them AK-47s and put them on the helicopter and dropped them. And we arrested eight vessels, Spanish vessels, took them to [unintelligible], and that sent a message. So now today we have a very good mutually beneficial relationship with Spanish government and the vessels. So same -- and now we are putting inspectors on those vessels.
GIL NOBLE: All right. Time for another break. We'll be back with much more right after this.
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, yes, revenue side is never enough if you have so many social deficits that you have inherited from the apartheid system. But frugal management of resources is always called for. Even if you have a lot of money, you have to be frugal in how you manage, how you administer your resources.
Now, I will answer by saying, we don't have enough to really meet the needs of our people, because needs are so great. But what we have done is that we had to identify some priority areas, and we have identified education, health, housing, so on. Now, we are spending about close to 45 percent of our national budget on education and health. No other country is doing that. But our needs are greater in those two areas.
GIL NOBLE: Right.
HAGE GEINGOB: And then we have been managing our economy, I think, reasonably well, so much so that we have -- our budget deficit is within the required limits, under 5 percent. Sometimes we even brought it down to 1.8 percent last year. This year we're going to get a little bit above 4 percent. So that's good management. Europeans require 3 percent to be a member of E.U., so we have been staying within -- under 5 percent all these years, average. And then also, growth rate has not been that bad, the [unintelligible] growth rate. Either -- [unintelligible] 10 years old now, we have eight years [unintelligible]. It's about 3.8 percent over the 10 years.
But only drawback there is that the population growth rate is also 3.1 percent. That's a big drag, yes.
So therefore, we decided not to have foreign debts, so Namibia is among very few countries who can tell you that we don't owe World Bank, IMF, a cent.
GIL NOBLE: Really?
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes, over 10 years.
GIL NOBLE: This question about payback, it is my understanding that DeBeers stockpiled a lot of diamonds when they saw independence coming, and a lot of those diamonds still reside in England and are being put out on the world market at their discretion. If that is true, is there any discussion about getting some compensation for those diamonds that have been stockpiled all these years?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, I can confirm that view, that definitely when DeBeers realized that independence is in the offing, I was told by our people who were working on the mines that they were mining about 24 hours around the clock, and stockpiling the goods. That's true.
But you -- we are now partners, and we are getting our share, and profits split, which is the more important one than the 50-50 partnership, is in our favor. But it's confidential to you. Now, you swear you will never discuss it.
GIL NOBLE: But are you getting 50 percent of what's coming out of the ground now, or what has come out of the ground and is being stockpiled in England?
HAGE GEINGOB: You are putting me on the spot here. But 50 percent--
GIL NOBLE: That's what I do.
HAGE GEINGOB: --50 percent of what they declare that particular year.
GIL NOBLE: Oh.
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes. So don't touch the stockpile.
GIL NOBLE: I see. We've seen, Mr. Prime Minister, outside of your country a lot of tragedy, where Africans are fighting Africans. What is your analysis of what's going on? And let's take it without being vague. Let's go right -- we know that there are Namibian troops that are involved in Congo. What is the root issue, in your analysis, and what role is your government playing to bring about remedy?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, firstly, we aren't warmongers. We know what is war. But there are -- people go to war sometimes when the political solutions are not reached. So war is sometimes another means to achieve your political objectives that you have failed to get through politics. So our Congo situation is complex. We know Congo history. People sometimes forget the history and just take the present and judge countries based on that.
Congo's history has been chequered throughout, Lamumba's there, complications where there, and Mobutu's rule was known by everybody. First he was supported by Americans and everybody--
GIL NOBLE: That's right.
HAGE GEINGOB: --and later on he was disowned, his own, and he died in a very disgraceful way. So Congo's situations were known by all of us. They were problems all along. They were not created by anybody who is now there.
Now, we have our own self-interest, as all countries say. First, we are pan-Africanists. Namibia got independence because of pan-African support, Africans dying for Namibia's cause. Angolans were dying for Namibia. And I mentioned Cubans too. And now all over the world -- some of us were here working to get support from you, from Americans. So we have been supported by the world.
Now Congo's case, when Mobutu was there, you know that UNITA used to have some bases there, and UNITA is fighting in Angola. Angola is our neighbor, closest neighbor. We have a strip called Caprivi in Namibia, [unintelligible]. And there is a group led by somebody called Muyongo, who used to be in our party and who was the leader of the official opposition. They kick him out from the party because he's a tribalist, regionalist. So he was organizing a small group there to have an uprising against us. So they don't manufacture weapons, but they had some guns.
After last year's uprising of second of August, which we quelled the same day, there were weapons. Where did they get them from? From UNITA. So there's a linkage, there is a link. So you are in -- if you are going to let Congo fall right in, UNITA was going to going to reestablish their bases there. And then Angola will be in trouble, then Caprivi is linked up. That's a long-term interest we're talking about.
Short-term one, as pan-Africanists, we have what is called SADC. Through SADC--
GIL NOBLE: I'm sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but we do need to take another break. We will come back with the second dimension, but we do need to take this break. Please excuse me. Please excuse.
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, through SADC we also took action. Firstly, that no government must be overthrown violently.
GIL NOBLE: What does SADC mean, what does it stand for?
HAGE GEINGOB: SADC, Southern African Development Community.
GIL NOBLE:: OK.
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes, it's a grouping of African countries to try to come together to harmonize their policies, to take joint actions.
GIL NOBLE: Yes.
HAGE GEINGOB: So basically, we even outlaw coups any more. So this thing of somebody, whoever, installing people in Congo, we didn't agree with them, to come and remove them, we said, no, that's not fair. That's how we got involved. As pan-Africanists, we are freed by [unintelligible] of others.
So our president, all of us, are working very hard. U.N. Security Council mission was in Congo, they have agreed only troops to come, the peacekeeping troops to come, and we are working flat out to get those troops there so that we can withdraw our troops to concentrate at home.
GIL NOBLE: How would you characterize the role of peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone, where there's also been a lot of bloodshed?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, you see, the peacekeeping troops in African situations must also be given full logistical support. When it comes to African peacekeeping--
GIL NOBLE: I see.
HAGE GEINGOB: --troops, there is always a problem. Now we don't have the means, the logistics. So [unintelligible] a failure, it looks like it's a disorganized thing. But if the troops can be given full support, and be supported like we did in Bosnia and these other places, there would be no problem. But on a serious note also, these troops must -- not have been attacked by rebels if they are armed and so on. So there's something wrong.
But that shouldn't also stop the peacekeeping to be sent to Congo. Some [unintelligible] have used that excuse already. You see, we are too late when it comes to African things.
We are just living from hand to mouth from those who benefit from Africa. It isn't plowed back. But we've just been blamed, Africa is backward, and so on. We're forgetting the historical reasons why Africa is in this mess.
GIL NOBLE: But on this bloodshed, Mr. Prime Minister, many of us here are very deeply disturbed when we see Africans mutilating Africans. What is behind that? Is it outside manipulation in the interests of natural resources of a particular country?
HAGE GEINGOB: It is my view as an African pan-Africanist is that there is no excuse or no good reason for us as grown-up Africans to be manipulated, and therefore blame the manipulators. We must own up to our weaknesses too. If somebody in this day and age is still manipulating us, it's our fault, that's what. Because really, as you said, I feel the same way, that African children should be so mutilated, and we are boasting, running around with guns, boasting that how many I have killed, and so on. And later on, to blame outsiders -- I think we have to blame ourselves.
On that score, I say leadership of Africa must take the blame. But Africans are, therefore, owning up. If you look at [unintelligible], the first round, and Liberia, it was Nigeria, Akomok [sp], who have spent billions of dollars to solve that problem, nobody gives credit.
When Africans do good things, they -- Democratization in Africa, we are talking about [unintelligible] participation five countries. But 10 years ago, there were more conflicts in Africa. All of a sudden, Africa was burning. We have no conflicts, but we are talking about Africa's achievements. Where in Senegal there was democratic elections, it was said, in Africa you could never have democratic elections, where the opposition can win. And here, opposition won, the sitting president gracefully conceded. And I was in Cairo for this African-European conference. [unintelligible] was leading Congo -- I mean, Senegalese delegation, sent by the new president, [unintelligible].
These are good examples of Africa we never hear about. We always just emphasize the bad side. But there are some good things in Africa. We must talk about them.
GIL NOBLE: I concur.
HAGE GEINGOB: The structure of the government, I don't see anything wrong with. But when it comes to electoral system, we have what you call proportional representation system. So it's based on a party list, not the constituency basis elections. So when I'm elected, it's my party which is elected, and I'm just listed on that.
That doesn't give you the constituency that I'm accountable for, and therefore, in the long run, I could become complacent and not really be accountable to my constituency. That's the area we need to revisit and see--
GIL NOBLE: So instead of -- you're accountable to the party, not your constituents.
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes.
GIL NOBLE: Here in the United States, there's been a growing cry for reparations for what has been done to Africans who -- we have been brought across the Atlantic to this side of the Atlantic and enslaved, and without compensation, we're responsible for the economic development of this country.
And so there's a call for reparations. We are owed something. What do you make of that call for reparations on the part of Africans and people of African descent?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, if all of us agree there was injustice done, and I think the whole world, everybody, agrees with that, the call may be justified. But same thing is happening in Namibia, a certain group of our tribespeople are saying, they [unintelligible] have suffered, and therefore they must be paid for that. And what the German government is saying is that instead of paying one group, we must cooperate and invest and help the government so that government can use that money to help their country. If that is genuine, that could be one way of doing it.
Now, in the United States, when I used to live here, I was part and parcel civil rights struggle. If we could have talked about -- we mentioned it at that time too, about that time, and made it an issue throughout, it would have been more viable. But after, there was cooption, many people have joined the system, made it, and now to call for it again is little bit too late.
GIL NOBLE: I see.
HAGE GEINGOB: Yes. But definitely, if we can have, for instance -- black people are making money here. The basketball players, they--
GIL NOBLE: I've noticed, yes.
HAGE GEINGOB:And billions of dollars there. If they can also just come -- unity is very important. Just come and set up a development fund, where it's one of the [unintelligible] put into, who are making -- not easy money, they are sweating, I see them sweating. But they are making money. And they could even just invest that for 10 years, and even take their money back, and out of interest, they can start a revolving fund that could be used for the black development.
GIL NOBLE: What is your assessment of the -- President Clinton's trade bill with Africa?
HAGE GEINGOB: Well, firstly, I must say, President Clinton showed interest in Africa. That must be welcomed. He also talks about Africa, he talks with Africans, as he said, and with also African-Americans here. That must be recognized. He visited Africa with a big, high-level delegation for 10 days. That must also be welcomed.
Trade, yes, you know, I'm cynical. Sometimes I say there has always been a trade between Africa and America. Slave trade, we call it, it was a trade. So any trade would be two-way if it's going to be meaningful. I must be able to buy and sell, and to be able to buy, I must have money. Otherwise, you, with money, will buy and dump things on me as you want.
And also, to put conditions on it about good governance, about democracy, I welcome this, since I am fighting for them. But meanings differ. Democracy here is different from democracy in Namibia, definitely. Democracy here, somebody collects $30 million a night to be elected. That's democracy for you, it works for America. But where do I get that money to make my democracy like your democracy? So my democracy will be different.
So why should somebody impose that concept of good governance on me and say, Because of that, I will now deal with you, you're a good guy?
Another thing the Western countries must forget is trying to pick up good guys and bad guys in Africa. We want holistic approach to African problems. Apartheid system did that by developing [unintelligible] and dumping the rest of Africans in the so-called homelands. What happened? It failed. Today those Africans who were dumped there are coming back to [unintelligible], uneducated, unskilled, and the whites are getting scared now. Because they thought initially they'd solved the problem, but they only postponed the problem.
So don't do the same with Africa. Don't choose Botswana and Namibia and South Africa, and they're the good guys, [unintelligible] of them, and forget the rest. It's going to haunt you.
GIL NOBLE: On that note, I must thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your time and your insights. It's indeed been a privilege.
And thanks to you, our audience, for being with us for being with us for another edition of Like It Is. Good afternoon.