Namibia: Genocide - No Individual Compensation

Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century.

NAMIBIA's special envoy on the Nama-Herero genocide of 1904 to 1908, Zed Ngavirue, says the negotiations with Germany roughly a fortnight ago do not include individual compensation for those affected by the genocide.

Ngavirue said the discussions mainly focused on reconciliation and the reconstruction of affected communities as a form of reparation.

The Guardian on Friday reported that Germany ruled out financial reparations, fearing such payments could set a legal precedent for other claims.

Broadcaster Deutschlandfunk last week reported there were plans that German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier would apologise for the genocide in front of the Namibian parliament as talks are nearing completion.

Ngavirue last week 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.

It is alleged that the deal is expecting Germany to make aid payments meant to assist Namibia on infrastructure, healthcare and job-training programmes - especially pertaining to the affected communities.

The Guardian reported that an internal progress report indicated the aid payments "do not amount to reparations in the legal definition of the word".

"Reparations or individual compensations are not the subject of the negotiations," the report stated, according to The Guardian.

The report said the definition of injustice set up by the 1948 convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide does not apply retrospectively and cannot be the basis for financial claims.

Ngavirue yesterday said Germany and Namibia discussed reconciliation and reconstruction as a form of reparations and this would mean Germany making available a certain amount of funds to Namibia for the atrocities.

He said The Guardian's reporting was in part not truthful because reparations were discussed, but Germany opted not to pay individual compensation.

"What we agreed on is reconciliation and reconstruction. But the announcement on the outcome of the negotiations would be made by the government. The prime minister is set to report to the president, and a full report will be made available by the end of next week hopefully," Ngavirue said.

Ngavirue previously said: "It is reconciliation and reconstruction we are seeking. Reconciliation can be of a lasting effect provided our devastated communities are reconstructed, transformed and [the negotiations] should deal with hard issues such as that of land."

The executive director of international relations and cooperation, Penda Naanda, yesterday told The Namibian they have not received the report detailing negotiation agreements struck with Germany.

Meanwhile, the Ovaherero Traditional Authority and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association last week said the reconciliation agreement is a public relations coup by Germany and an act of betrayal by the Namibian government.

The two 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.

"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," they said.

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