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Home / Govt U-turns on genocide pact… Namibia seeks N$18bn deal renegotiation

Govt U-turns on genocide pact… Namibia seeks N$18bn deal renegotiation

2022-10-28  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Govt U-turns on genocide pact… Namibia seeks N$18bn deal renegotiation

The Namibian government has dismissed claims it has agreed to the joint declaration on genocide negotiations initialed in May 2021 by the special envoys, saying it would not do so without the endorsement of the affected communities. 

Vice President Nangolo Mbumba yesterday said it had asked Germany to renegotiate the genocide agreement reached last year between the two governments. 

“The technical committees of Namibia and Germany discussed the issue, and proposed that amendments be made to the joint declaration in the form of an addendum, which was submitted to the German government,” he explained.

Genocide-affected traditional leaders yesterday met in the capital to amend the rejected genocide deal emanating from the first genocide of the 20th century, which resulted in the mass killing of the Nama and Ovaherero more than 100 years ago.

Government has been under pressure from opposition parties and traditional authorities, who said the deal was flawed.

The rejected deal includes an offer of N$18 billion to aid projects in the country over 30 years. 

Germany stressed that the aid would be paid on a “voluntary basis”, and that the agreement was not comparable to “reparations”.

Despite the controversy surrounding
the draft agreement, broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that the German government is already taking steps towards its implementation. This year’s federal budget includes €35 million (over N$620 million) for development projects, and €4 million for a foundation that is supposed to keep the memory of the genocide alive. Both sums are part of the €1.1 billion package.

The German government also rejected demands to renegotiate. “From the German government’s point of view, the negotiations for the joint declaration with Namibia have been finalised, even though talks about specific modalities of its implementation are continuing,” the government wrote in response to written questions submitted by Sevim Dagdelen, a member of Germany’s federal parliament from the socialist Left Party.

Mbumba, opening the chiefs’ forum meeting in the capital, said the request to review the deal was made in July after discussions in the Namibian National Assembly.

He also reassured the Ovaherero, Nama and Ovambanderu traditional leaders that reparations, money would not be administered by the government, and
neither will it form part of the government fiscus.

“It is foreseen that a separate fund will be set up, where the affected communities will participate in a decisive capacity in terms of planning, budgeting and execution/implementation,” Mbumba stated.

“The payment of reparations through the reconciliation and reconstruction programmes will be separate from the bilateral development aid that will be
agreed upon between Namibia and
Germany from time to time.”

He further said after reaching the agreement with Germany on the genocide matter, it is expected that bilateral relations between the two countries will be elevated to another level through the bi-national commission. 

These new enhanced relations between the two countries, he noted, will enable Namibia to address any remaining issues pertaining to reconciliation and reconstruction programmes. 

He said the development cooperation covers programmes all over Namibia, while the reparations amount will only be implemented in the seven identified regions.

“A body will be set up, which will be responsible for the implementation of the reparations’ programmes,” he said.

He thus appealed to all the affected community members, and Namibians at large, to remain calm, united and to cooperate and work together with government during and after what he
termed a sensitive negotiation on genocide, apology and reparations. 

“Let us all unite and work together in unity of purpose to take these negotiations to their logical conclusion,” he continued.

Speaking on behalf of the chiefs’ assembly, chief Manasse Zeraeua said there is a need for the government to convene a national conference on genocide to bring together
the descendants of the victims of the genocide, including those in the diaspora.

He added that the two governments should both enact an Act of Parliament regarding the 1904-08 genocide, respectively.

“The assembly members rejected the joint declaration from the onset. We are not fighting Government on the negotiations. All of us are bitter about the genocide, and want what is best in unity,” stressed

The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) said in a statement yesterday “we are pleased to note that through the words of the vice president, the Namibian government has listened to our position and similar ones by other affected communities, and haven’t signed the joint declaration.

We equally call upon the Namibian government to stop playing a Russian roulette game with the German government, because this is what they have been doing by hiding behind diplomacy, and not being blunt and bold enough with Germany over the years, and to tell them to their faces that there can’t be any other word or term used for what has happened during 1904-08, except genocide.”

The party added that it is time that the Namibian government brought those affected communities to the negotiating table so that they can speak directly with Germany, while the government must play only a facilitating role.

On his part, leader of the official opposition McHenry Venaani told New Era yesterday “it is okay for government to consult people from time to time on the matter, but it is absolutely on the wrong footing for government to attempt to coerce people to follow what they want to do.”

The Popular Democratic Movement president said he has also written to
President Hage Geingob. 

“I asked him to reconfigure the negotiating team to include descendants. I hope this consultation is meant to create a second round. But the fundamental flaws in the first text should be avoided. The quantum should be renegotiated, and we want the fundamentals to be corrected,” said Venaani.

2022-10-28  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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