18 February 2013

Namibia: Dispute Over Funds of Namibian-German Special Initiative

Windhoek — A member of the committees representing descendants of victims of the German colonial war of 1904-1908 says that coordinators of the Namibian-German Special Initiative (NGSI) sent out a false report about project expenditure for the designated communities.

According to Hewat Beukes, coordinators claim they used close to N$1.7 million for planning, consultancy services, auditing and other ancillary items but they don't say who did the auditing and have also not produced an audited report.

"We asked them to specify and give account, and for an audited report on the money that they have given, but they cannot," said Beukes, spokesperson for the Nama Technical Committee.

He said the coordinators also claimed they injected N$1.6 million into the small community of Bethanie under Chief Dawid Frederick, but the chief apparently reported that they only received goats to the value of N$287 000.

"The German state reported to us that there was an audited report with NBC. We researched and visited the so-called beneficiaries, but there was nothing," he maintained.

Beukes said that the German government "cannot produce" an audited report to the Bundestag (German Parliament).

"There is enormous pressure in Germany on bookkeeping that wasn't done. It is hardly conducive for this nation to go into negotiations on a good faith basis with the German nation on the question of reparation if the first few dollars they sent disappeared and did not reach the affected people," he lashed out.

He said unless an audit on the special initiative "sees the light and is credible", then there could be no talk of good faith negotiations with the German government on the question of reparation.

He further said the coordinators did not discuss the needs or priorities with the communities but just decided what they wanted to do.

Beukes claimed that the initiative was bringing old goats to the communities, and it was also not clear from where they were buying the animals. The Nama spokesperson also lashed out at the new German Ambassador Onno Hückmann, who apparently said that the mushrooming of committees from the affected communities was delaying the special initiative programmes.

"Every member has a right to ask for restitution. Whether a thousand committees spring up and demand reparation is immaterial and should not contribute to the delay," Beukes said.

Last week, members of the Herero/Nama communities said that they stood 100 percent behind Prime Minister Hage Geingob who reportedly reprimanded Hückmann over the genocide and reparation issue.

Hückmann is reported to have cautioned the PM that 'although Germany will not forget the colonial history with Namibia, persistent mention of reparation could tarnish the flourishing bilateral relations between the two countries.'

At a press conference, the Nama Traditional Authorities Association and the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation said that the PM was right when he told Hückmann that the Namibian government could not stop people from talking about reparation.

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