The Presidency yesterday dispelled, condemned and rejected all insinuations and accusations that President Hage Geingob has relegated the sensitive 1904-08 Genocide matter to a non-issue, saying his vigour, commitment, and dedication to the subject remains unquestionable.
The Presidency was responding to criticism from traditional leaders and members of opposition parties, who accused the Head of State of relegating and speaking ill of the genocide issue during a lecture at Sciences Po in France on 15 September and on 18 September during bilateral talks on the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The President was accused of saying the apartheid system under the brutal apartheid South African regime was far worse than the genocide committed by imperial Germany against the Nama and Ovaherero ethnic groups during colonial times.
In response, the Presidency yesterday maintained that at no point during both the abovementioned deliberations did Geingob compare the gruesome 1904-08 genocide to the horrific apartheid struggle.
In fact, if anything, the President’s deliberations on the two occasions and on other many international forums, have always been aimed at advancing the cause and importance of genocide and the need to bring reasonable closure to the issue.
The statement from the Presidency said: “Without comparing the German genocide against the Nama and Ovaherero communities, the President stated, as a matter of fact, that the apartheid regime of South Africa was equally worse. In fact, President Geingob constantly cautions against the tragedy of genocide being used for tribal and political ends. Rightly so, President Geingob has always located the genocide as Namibian and has done more than any Namibian leader to ensure that progress is made to hold Germany accountable for the genocide and the atrocities committed against the Namibian people”.
It added: “Namibians lost a century in development and progress and it is unfortunate that tribal entrepreneurs have sought to use the genocide to create a wedge between Namibians.”
The Presidency, therefore, dismissed a “campaign of misinformation and disinformation by those who try to resuscitate their political fortunes, including DTA politicians who actively participated in the oppression of the Namibian people during apartheid”.
“It is also a fact that there is no evidence of the DTA raising the question of genocide with the apartheid regime and the German government at that time. Perhaps, their wish is to protect the South African apartheid system they aided and abetted for decades, at a time when President Geingob was a freedom fighter, fighting to dismantle that very same appalling system,” reads the statement.
Additionally, President Geingob raised the question about the oppressive nature of German colonialism in his 2004 doctoral dissertation ‘State Formation in Namibia’, highlighting the clashes between Germans and Khausas, followed by the ‘revolt’ of Goortontein in 1901, the Swartbooi uprisings of 1904-7, and the Herero uprisings of 1904-7. Specifically, President Geingob describes in his thesis “German settler colonialism” as the worst form of colonialism, with a “virulent racist predicate.” It goes on to emphasise the fact that as a scholar and politician, President Geingob has consistently condemned the oppressive nature of German colonialism in Namibia, which culminated in the first genocide of the 20th century.
The Presidency further said Geingob practically demonstrated his seriousness and unwavering commitment to the genocide struggle by appointing in 2015, the late Ambassador Dr Zed Ngavirue as the special envoy to lead deliberations with the German government.
“President Geingob formalised and institutionalised discussions with Germany by appointing Ambassador Ngavirue on the 1904-1908 genocide. With consistent guidance from President Geingob, Ambassador Ngavirue led the negotiations until the final draft declaration of May 2021, where the German Government admitted that it committed genocide in 1904 and owed the Namibian people an apology,” reads the statement.
This, the Presidency, said is a testimony to the fact that President Geingob has never and will never downplay the genocide, but would like to seek closure for the reparation and reconstruction of the affected communities.