13 March 2018

Namibia: Turf War Continues Between Nama Leaders and MP

The turf war between Nama traditional leaders and Swapo backbencher Ida Hoffmann appears far from resolved over who is mandated to spearhead Nama reparations talks with Germany.

The parties have been at loggerheads since the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) earlier this year decided to no longer recognise Hoffmann as convener and chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee (NGTC).

The NGTC issued a statement yesterday, signed by the chairperson's special adviser, Hewat Beukes, that it was "not subordinate to any institution or organisation" as it was a voluntary association of people with the same objective of seeing Germany account for the 1904-08 genocide, and to see some form of restitution made for the atrocities.

In addition, it states that the association was an initiative convened by Hoffmann in 1992 with other people directly affected by the German colonial dispossession and mass murder through extermination orders.

According to Beukes, the NTLA, which he claimed was not even a legal entity, has declared that they have removed Hoffmann as chairperson of the NGTC for inexplicable reasons. He described the Nama leaders' attempt to sideline Hoffmann as "laughable", and argued that the association had no legal relation to the committee.

"Both are voluntary associations. Neither Ms Hoffmann nor the NGTC is under the jurisdiction of the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000, under which chiefs are regulated. The chiefs do not even have statutory property or assets," Beukes stressed.

He also claimed that the Nama leaders had no standing in the reparations talks.

"They only have standing perhaps as affected persons. Every person and even persons who are classified as Nama and Ovaherero have legal standing and can exercise their rights either under a chief, a lawyer, in person, or whoever they wish to represent them," he remarked.

Beukes emphasised that there is no legal agreement between the NGTC and the NTLA, and that the NTLA was merely considered "purely out of the magnanimity of the NGTC, and in particular Hoffmann".

"The NGTC is in the process of constituting itself as a legal entity which can sue and can be sued. The association cannot become a legal entity because it has no assets, nor do the tribal leaders have any way of constituting themselves as a legal entity," he added.

"We notify that the expulsion of Ms Hoffmann is meaningless and ridiculous," he stated, and stressed that Hoffmann remained the chairperson of the NGTC.

NTLA chairperson Seth Kooitjie hit back yesterday at Beukes' statement, saying "we do not know who he is and what his background was relating to reparations".

"This is interesting. It appears the reparation saga has taken another twist," Kooitjie remarked.

He reiterated that government recognised Nama leaders had withdrawn Hoffmann's mandate to spearhead reparations talks on their behalf.

However, he pointed out that they did not remove her as chairperson of the NGTC.

"She can continue to represent Nama people, who have given her consent, in the reparations talks. All we say is that we no longer recognise the mandate that had been given to her to lead the reparations talks, and thus do not want to be associated with issues concerning reparations spearheaded by her under the banner of NGTC," said Kooitjie.


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