Namibia: German Genocide Offer 'An Insult'

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

OPPOSITION political parties have labelled the German government's offer to make amends for the brutal extermination of Ovaherero and Nama between 1904 and 1908 an "insult to Namibia".

It was revealed this week that Germany is willing to pay Namibia 1,1 billion euros (about N$18,6 billion) over 30 years in projects for the reconciliation and reconstruction of communities affected by the genocide as a form of reparation.

Landless People's Movement spokesperson Joyce Muzengua says the deal Namibia reached with the German government on the genocide has nothing to do with Ovaherero and Nama people but it was a bilateral agreement.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Muzengua stressed that the agreement the two governments might have reached are not reparations, and it is imperative for Germany to apologise for its brutal aggression.

"LPMs stance on the matter is that if Namibia receives money from Germany, it should go to the traditional authorities of the affected communities and not to the government. Instead, the government can audit," she said.

She questioned why the government decided on reconstruction, saying they reject the fact that the government decided to go the political route with the negotiations.

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora believes that Ovaherero and Nama communities are at the mercy of God, blaming the government for being weak in negotiations, while traditional leaders had their own agendas.

"Some leaders are not genuine in their refusal and only because they were excluded. Namibia was weak in representing the affected communities," he said

Kavekotora claimed Germany has been calling the shots during the negotiations while Namibia merely agreed to what was on the table.

"I do not think it is the best the Namibian government could get from Germany because of their weak stance. We have seen it from the way prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and president Hage Geingob have been addressing this matter,"

This assertion was dismissed by Namibia's special envoy on the genocide, Zed Ngavirue, who said their team dictated the offer and Germany worked with it.

The RDP leader further pointed out that the negotiations have proved to be unfruitful as the three pillars of the initial request have not been addressed in the offer.

Similarly, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) argued that the offer in its current state does not reflect respectability.

PDM parliamentarian Inna Hengari suggested that wide consultation should take place on this offer, however, labelling it as insulting.

"This is an insult. None of the three pillars of the initial points of the negotiations is being addressed or has been met. The three pillars are apology, acknowledge genocide and reparations. Where are they in this offer?" she asked.

The parliamentarian believes the government has completely moved away from the negotiations and started to discuss projects.

"The discussion was never about projects but reparations. Germany has not been negotiating in good faith," Henagri stressed.

PDM called on opposition parties to unite against this offer in parliament to show a strong front as they plan a gathering with the descendants of the victims of the genocide.

"We are planning on the first ever genocide conference for the descendants of the genocide victims. We have also been in contact with the traditional leaders and political parties," Hengari added.

Swanu also rejected the proposed Reconstruction and Reconciliation Agreement saying this is nothing more than a political ploy conjured up by both the Namibian and the German governments.

Its interim secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda demanded a reconstituted negotiating team bringing on board representatives of the victim communities as chosen by themselves.

"In fact, the Namibian government must only be present and facilitate all logistical arrangements with their German counterparts. Apart from this, they must be reduced to mere observers," he stressed.

Kaaronda advised that Ovaherero and Nama communities should not be divided for short-term personal financial or political gain.

"Allow this fight for reparation and justice to be the reason to unite and stay united as both our government and the German government are your only enemy," he said.

National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) said the N$18,6 billion is merely a development aid and not the reparation the affected communities are seeking.

"This is an insult of the highest order. Germany must acknowledge genocide and pay reparations. They totally disregard Namibia because we are black," he said.

Nudo's secretary general, Joseph Kauandenge, is of the position that Germany has not been genuine and remorseful during the negotiations.

"You have a government who refuses to accept genocide and pay reparation. They want to run away from their historical responsibility and hide behind development aid. To them we are inferior," he asserted.

Kauandenge said they are disappointed with the Namibian government for even considering to accept this offer.

"The government has hijacked it to feed their narrative and wants. We will reject the offer if it comes to parliament. We will walk out," he said.

ANALYST POINT OF VIEW

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanya shared Muzengua's sentiments, saying the negotiations were nothing new but rather the two governments entering into a bilateral agreement.

He said for Namibia to receive money for projects is a tricky situation. According to the analyst, project-driven reconciliation for the affected communities may cause problems, especially when it comes to implementation.

"The communities are scattered all over Namibia and will thus not benefit. Implementation of these projects will be a nightmare," he said.

Kamwanya added that Germany has never been interested in paying reparations and thus the deal should just be regarded as a bilateral agreement.

However, he added that there is no value to human life and no amount of money can compensate for the lives lost.

"The negotiations should have looked at social justice as well," he noted.

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