German-speaking Namibians have warned disgruntled individuals against threats of farm grabs targeting German-speaking landowners in the country, saying they too are local citizens, equal before the law and with equal rights and responsibilities.
Forum of German-Speaking Namibians chairperson Harald Hecht yesterday said they have taken note of the fact that sections within the Ovaherero and Nama communities are dissatisfied with the way negotiations took place and the amount finally agreed upon between the two governments’ negotiating teams. However, he said, some of those reactions, and in particular the tone used, are neither acceptable nor helpful. “We take particular exception to open as well as veiled threats against landowners and German-speaking Namibians. These could harm future efforts to reconcile and find a peaceful way forward,” Hecht warned.
His comments follow statements by former Cabinet minister Kazenambo Kazenambo, who last week said descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 genocide by Germany are ready to reclaim their ancestral farms occupied by descendants of the German colonialists in Namibia.
At a media briefing last week, Kazenambo said the signing and implementation of the N$18 billion agreement in development programmes over 30 years reached by the Namibian and German governments will lead to civil strife if not a new genocidal war.
Kazenambo said the political risk of the signing and implementation of this bilateral agreement will not bring any finality to the Ovaherero and Nama people’s genocide restorative justice claims.
“The hide-and-seek, double-talking and working at cross-purposes being employed by the two governments in the treatment of the majority of the descendants have poisoned the political environment in Namibia, and it has destroyed mutual trust amongst various stakeholders who have direct or indirect interests to these negotiations,” said the outspoken former member of parliament.
He claimed that the patronising tone and bullying German negotiators display on the one hand, and the Namibian government that is not heeding any advice or suggestion from the majority, have the potential to cause discontent and civil strife in the country.
Hecht appealed to Namibians to desist from exploiting the ongoing genocide negotiations process to incite violence, thereby destabilising the country. “We believe we should reach out towards each other, taking into account our shared history, and working towards a better future,” he said, adding that German-speaking Namibians intend to assist in the negotiation process through the promotion of dialogue whenever and wherever the two parties can meaningfully do so – in the spirit of reconciliation and as manifested in the Namibian Constitution.
“We welcome the news that negotiations between Namibia and Germany finally led to the acceptance of a joint bilateral agreement by the two heads of delegations, Namibian diplomat Dr Zed Ngavirue and former German MP Ruprecht Polenz,” he said.
“We empathise with and feel the pain and suffering that were endured during the atrocious actions which Germany is now willing to call genocide, and we welcome the fact that an official apology will be tendered by its highest office-bearer, president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to the affected communities and the Namibian people. We also welcome Germany’s commitment to financial compensation.”
He said he also regards the negotiations as having been conducted in good faith, according to the letter and spirit of the motion in parliament by late Kuaima Riruako between the two governments and with the participation of representatives of the affected communities. Last week, German opposition party bemoaned the deal reached with Germany over the mass killing of Namibians more than 100 years ago.
Evrim Sommer, spokesperson of Die Linke, also commonly referred to as the Left Party, told New Era the party welcomes the fact that the agreement brings about the long-overdue recognition of the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama.
“In our opinion, there is a moral, historical and political obligation to reconcile the injustice caused by the German Empire and to compensate financially for the consequential economic damage that continues to this day,” said Sommer.
“Unfortunately, from our point of view, the promised amount for this is insufficient. The Linke demands that the amount has to be increased to contribute appropriately to the reparation for the injustice suffered and for the consequences of German colonial rule.”
The Germans have agreed to fund construction programmes that will benefit the descendants of the affected communities. This includes N$820 million for reconciliation, N$2.1 billion towards renewable energy projects, N$2.4 billion for vocational training, and N$1.6 billion for rural roads. The agreement with Germany also includes N$2.1 billion for rural water supply and sanitation, and a whopping N$8.8 billion towards land acquisition and training.