Namibia: 'Sell-Outs and Judases' ... Govt Accused of Betraying Genocide Victims

Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century. German troops massacred and displaced tens of thousands of Namibians in 1904-1908.

Opposition parties yesterday labelled the country's government leaders as the new apartheid government of the day, saying they sold the Ovaherero and Nama people out for their own interests.

This was their reaction in the National Assembly (NA) to the joint declaration tabled in parliament by prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday reiterated the government's position on the genocide negotiations and why Namibia settled for the 1,1 billion euros (N$18,4 billion) offer.

The prime minister said that the government had accepted Germany's offer for the 1904-1908 genocide, saying this will put Namibia's foot in the door for more funds through its bilateral relations.

She said despite the resistance on the amount, the negotiations touched on elevating the bilateral relations between the two countries through the Bi-National Commission.

"These new enhanced relations between the two countries will enable Namibia to optimise opportunities under our cooperation that will benefit the people of Namibia in the future," she explained.

The prime minister added that although Namibians, particularly the affected communities did not get what they wanted, the country achieved significant milestones; saying this is because Germany has made important concessions by agreeing to the fact that it committed a genocide on Namibian soil, and that it will apologise, followed by reparations.

"The door of the Namibian government remains open, as it has always been for meaningful advice," she noted.

The opposition members of parliament rejected the declaration, saying the principle of the three pillars of the initial adopted motion in the NA had not been met in the declaration.

Five chiefs within the Ovaherero community rejected the offer along with the Nama Traditional Leaders Association as well as the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, while the Ovaherero and Nama Council accepted the offer.

The Landless People's Movement (LPM)'s Utaara Mootu has described Kuugongelwa-Amadhila as a coloniser, adding that the entire Swapo-led government are neo-colonisers.

"Right honourable prime minister, never have I in my entire life as a millennial I think I would be looking at a coloniser, the way I am looking at you right now. You have betrayed the Namibian people," Mootu said, before NA speaker Peter Katjavivi interrupted her, saying the opposition parties should not use emotions in their arguments and should avoid using provocative language.

Katjavivi explained that the language used is unacceptable and not parliamentary, calling Mootu to order, adding that the National Assembly is yet to have an indepth debate on the joint declaration.

Another LPM MP, Edson Isaacks, said the government had sold out the Ovaherero and Nama people to Germany with this joint declaration.

"Today I am very emotional. It is a betrayal. The government sold our people to Germany. They have excluded communities," he expressed.

Isaacks said the government acted like the apartheid government by selling out to Germany.

"They were too excited about the limousines that they would be transported with on the trip and had little clue on how to negotiate," he added.

Nudo secretary general Joseph Kauandenge said the agreement was an insult and devoid of any truth.

Speaking after the prime minister spoke about the conclusion of the genocide negotiations with the German government, Kauandenge said the PM's statement is rejected with the contempt it deserves.

He says the Namibian government betrayed the Ovaherero and Nama people, and the legacy of the late chief Kuaima Riruako.

He also added that the declaration between the two governments was not inclusive of the Ovaherero and Nama people whose ancestors suffered the 1904-08 genocide.

"What the government did to the Ovaherero and Nama people is the same as what the Germans did. A motion was passed in this house with three pillars as alluded to by the prime minister, that Germany must acknowledge that there was genocide, that Germany must render and unconditional apology, but the prime minister continues to talk about the money as reparations. Where in this declaration does it say the money is reparation money? It is more of developmental aid," he said.

Popular Democratic Movement's (PDM) Vipuakuje Muharukua stressed that the prime minister' statement is devoid of the crying voices of the affected Ovaherero and Nama communities. He added that the prime minister treated the issue with a lack of sensitivity, by not consulting the communities.

He called on the government to bring the joint declaration to parliament for thorough discussion, without disregarding the affected communities as it did during the negotiations.

"Do not sign this agreement without consulting the parliament and those from affected communities who are in this parliament. We are sitting here, we have members from the affected communities. What we have is the honourable Kuugongelwa, honourable Namoloh, honourable Shivute, whoever, telling us what is in the best interest of the affected communities because they are sitting in the Cabinet," he added, calling the Swapo led government sell-outs to the very core.

Fellow PDM parliamentarian Inna Hengari claimed that the government has gone against a parliament motion spearheaded by the late Ovaherero chief Kuaima Riruako, saying they should have been mere facilitators and should not have spoken on behalf of the affected communities.

Hengari also questioned the intentions of the German government, saying they are not remorseful.

"If there was genuine remorse, there would be reparations," she said.

Rally for Democracy and Progress president Mike Kavekotora said the Namibian negotiating team went into the room as beggars and "do not feel the pain" of the affected communities.

"This is not the outcome of someone who negotiated. The Namibian government was raped by the German government. Go back to the drawing board," he strongly urged Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Nudo president Utjiua Muinjangue said why should the German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier be the one to render the apology to Namibia because he is only in a ceremonial position, saying the German chancellor Angela Merkel should be the one to render the apology.

She further said the apology should not be done in parliament as stated in the declaration but rather directly done to the affected communities.

"Another place should be found for the apology to be made," she said.

DIVIDED COMMUNITIES

Germany's special envoy Ruprecht Polenz said they could not negotiate directly with the affected communities because they are too divided.

"There is no generally elected or recognised representation by all Herero and Nama, but numerous different groups. In addition, there are also rivalries within these communities," he said in a column published recently.

Polenz further asserted that Germany will not call the N$18,4 billion reparations; they do not have the legal obligation to do so.

"Today's handling of the crimes from 1904 to 1908 is not a legal question, but a political-moral question. Germany wants to face up to this political and moral responsibility. The Genocide Convention has no retroactive effect," he said.

Polenz further urged that this is why the three attempts by Herero and Nama representatives in international and American courts were unsuccessful. They were not accepted for the decision," he added.

Reacting to Polenz' statement, presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari said the Germany special envoy is entitled to his opinions.

"Namibia has its own processes and institutions to deal with the declaration," he said.

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