Namibia: Genocide Offer for Better Bilateral Relations

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

The government accepted Germany's N$18,4 billion offer for the 1904-1908 genocide saying this will put Namibia's foot in the door for more funds through its bilateral relations.

Despite expressing disappointment over the offer, vice president Nangolo Mbumba said on Friday the government accepted the agreement hoping Germany will increase the amount.

"Germany has agreed to commit to revisit and renegotiate the amount, as the implementation of the reparations ensues," he said.

Mbumba and deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah also said the joint declaration between Namibia and Germany has levelled up their bilateral relations and hopes more money will be pumped into the country.

"I am glad to note that the bilateral relations between the two countries will no longer be at the same level, and will be elevated to the highest level through a bi-national commission. These new enhanced relations between the two countries will enable Namibia to address any remaining issues pertaining to the reconciliation and reconstruction programmes, while also continuing to draw from the opportunities that will benefit future generations of Namibians," the vice president explained.

However, colonialism and genocide historian Jürgen Zimmerer says Germany said the N$18,4 billion is the final amount and it was closing this chapter.

One of the negotiators, deputy Bank of Namibia governor Ebson Uanguta explained that more funds will come through the implementation of the programmes which the N$18,4 billion will fund.

The money will fund land reform, in particular land acquisition within the framework of the Namibian Constitution and land development; agriculture; rural livelihoods and natural resources; rural infrastructure; energy and water supply; technical and vocational education and training.

The projects will be in the Erongo, Hardap, //Kharas, Kunene, Khomas, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.

"The implementation will go through impact assessment and evaluation at agreed intervals. They will then see that the amount they budgeted for this was a drop in the bucket," Uanguta said.

"When we did the calculation of the land loss, it brought us to N$1,1 trillion which is about £70 billion. We submitted this to the Germans. They sat with that offer for six to nine months," he said while reflecting on the journey.


Prime minister Saraa Kuugongelwa-Amadhila will table the declaration in the National Assembly this week.

However, Landless People's Movement (LPM) leaders Henny Seibeb and Bernadus Swartbooi are still suspended from the National Assembly.

LPM in 2019 won the majority votes in the southern regions of Hardap and //Kharas, where the Nama people mostly reside.


Nandi-Ndaitwah said she cannot say whether the European lawyers hired by former justice minister Sacky Shanghala for N$36 million, helped with the negotiations.

"At this stage, I have not made an analysis of each specific action as to what it contributed," she explained.

Shanghala controversially hired Namibian and European lawyers to research and review documents on genocide to advise the government on the issue.

At the time, the finance ministry questioned how the figure went up to N$36 million while the international relations ministry was furious that the attorney general did not inform them that the state was using lawyers from London to help with the genocide talks.


Political analyst and one of Namibia's negotiators Phanuel Kaapama said the affected communities can still claim more money from Germany.

"Germany is mistaken if they think they can decide when to close the discussion on the genocide. That part of the declaration is difficult to use as a closing because what happened did stay in the past but we continue to live with it. This is a generational struggle," he explained.

The offer includes N$8,9 billion for land acquisition and training, N$1,6 billion for rural roads and N$2,1 billion for rural water supply and sanitation.

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