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The only German-Namibian Member of the German Parliament, Ottmar von Holtz, visited Namibia from 3 to 8 February 2019. Representing the political party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, he took up a seat in the German Parliament in 2017 and is member of the Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development. Ottmar von Holtz was born in Gobabis and raised in Windhoek. With regard to Namibia, he is interested in sustainable and just development as well as in the processing of the common past.

During his visit, von Holtz gathered information on urgent future issues such as urbanization or the impact of climate change on agricultural production and sustainable development in the rural areas. On urban land reform, von Holtz met with representatives of the City of Windhoek, the NGO Development Workshop and the Shack Dwellers Federation, and visited informal settlements in Katutura. In conversation with representatives of the National Agricultural Union, he was informed about the state of commercial land reform. In an exchange with various environmental organizations, the Member of Parliament also gained a good understanding of facts and the challenges that exist in the sustainable use of natural resources and the involvement of local communities (conservancies) in the revenues from economic activities.

Dialogue for dealing with the common past

Furthermore, von Holtz informed himself about how Namibians see the current dialogue about a common approach to the painful history of the colonial era. He held talks with special envoy Dr Zed Ngavirue, representatives of the various Herero and Nama groups and Traditional Authorities, as well as German speaking Namibians. In Okakarara, he gained insight into the living conditions there by speaking to the Town Council. He also he visited the children and youth facilities by “Steps for Children” that is supported by German donors. The views of young people on current topics rounded off the impressions gained when von Holtz sat down at table with young people from different ethnic groups at the Namibia Scientific Society.

Advancing parliamentary cooperation

Von Holtz exchanged views with parliamentary president Prof Peter Katjavivi about the role of parliaments in taking steps towards reconciliation between Germans and Namibians. At the invitation of the German Bundestag, Prof Katjavivi will travel to Germany with a delegation from the Namibian Parliament next week to discuss closer cooperation between the two parliaments and their administrations.

As chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Management and Action Coordination, Holtz also turned his attention to civil society actors in Namibia. He visited the project “Basketball Artist School” (Windhoek) and spoke to representatives of the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Legal Assistance Centre as well as with the director of the Goethe-Institut Namibia, Daniel Stoevesandt.

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