Namibia: Ngavirue Confirms 'Fruitful' Genocide Talks

NAMIBIA's special envoy on the Nama-Herero genocide of 1904 to 1908, Zed Ngavirue, has confirmed "fruitful discussions with the German government" on the matter, but would not confirm or deny a German media report saying a deal has been struck and would be signed soon.

"We had fruitful discussions with the German government, but I cannot reveal any information yet without informing my principals, the president [Hage Geingob] and the minister of international relations [Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah]," Ngavirue yesterday said.

This comes after German media outlet Deutschlandfunk over the weekend reported the agreement would be signed off by the foreign ministers of the two countries within two weeks, and that German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to apologise for the genocide in the Namibian parliament.

Ngavirue travelled to Germany recently for a new round of talks.

The negotiations began six years ago with the aim that Germany comes to terms with its colonial past.

Between 1904 and 1908 German troops killed tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people, but over the years the German government has rejected the concept of genocide, also with the view of possible compensation.

Namibia recently drafted a declaration and full description of the genocide upon the German government's acknowledgement of the events.

FEELING BETRAYED

Meanwhile, the Ovaherero Traditional Authority and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association say they are feeling betrayed by the Namibian government for accepting to settle on a reconciliation agreement and not reparations.

"The so-called reconciliation agreement - not reparation agreement - is a public relations coup by Germany and an act of betrayal by the Namibian government," they say.

In a statement yesterday the traditional authorities said it is clear Germany has once again bamboozled Namibia's government into a meaningless sell-out agreement.

"It is a monumental shame and a shocking betrayal of trust that a descendant of the victim communities is the one who initiated such an agreement, which makes a mockery of the three negotiating pillars that the Swapo government has set for itself," the statement read.

The two organisations will be consulting closely on the agreement once more details are available.

They said Germany must acknowledge that the "mass killings" of their ancestors constitute genocide, Germany must apologise for the genocide, and must pay reparations.

The organisations said the so-called "compensation" to finance "social projects" is nothing but a cover-up for continued German funding of Namibian government projects under its fifth National Development Plans and Vision 2030.

"Given the above, we reject the initial reconciliation agreement negotiated without the participation of the legitimate representatives of the majority of the victim communities with the contempt it deserves. It is not worth the paper it's written on, and we urge the United Nations, the African Union and the rest of the international community to reject this gimmick by Germany and Namibia.

"We equally call upon the United Nations and the United States government to recognise the 1904 to 1908 massacre by Germany as genocide and crimes against humanity," the statement said.

Ngavirue last month told The Namibian Namibia's objective is that Germany must be willing to help the country reconstruct the affected communities.

This, he said, can be of lasting effect, "provided our devastated communities are reconstructed, transformed and [the negotiations] should deal with hard issues, such as the issue of land".

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