Reconciliation too loose a concept

03 July 2020 | Opinion

Reconciliation has become a buzzword lately in the National Assembly, but this has only solicited insults and physical scuffles.

Part of the problem is that the term is left to interpretation. There is no common understanding of reconciliation, its intention and what would be construed as its successful implementation.

In its most general sense, reconciliation refers to a condition of non-violent, mutually acceptable coexistence where former enemies come to re-envision one another as fellow citizens.

There is no compensatory dimension to this context.

In the eyes of many, this was the meaning, spirit and context of Sam Nujoma's declaration of national reconciliation at independence.

But because the term has been left open to interpretation, every Tom, Dick and Harry defines reconciliation in whatever way that enhances their personal gain.

This is why some see reconciliation through the lens of truth commissions, official apologies, reparations and amnesties.

Unless Namibia officially defines what reconciliation means and paves a clear path for its practical implementation, we will continue to have emotional debates of calling people thugs and shoving opponents, as has been the spectacle in parliament this week.

We are worried that in the name of supposed reconciliation, there has been pursuit by some quarters to make other parties pay their former adversaries – a situation whose snowball effects would be impossible to contain.

There are only two ways to deal with our past. We must either truly reconcile and move on, or park the reconciliation project and relentlessly pursue each other like a hunter on an antelope's trail.

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