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Chiefs reject genocide reparations deal

2021-05-27  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Chiefs reject genocide reparations deal

Some government-recognised traditional leaders, who also participated in reparations negotiations, have refused to endorse the agreement reached between Namibian and German authorities, making it difficult for government to forge ahead with the deal. 

This comes after the traditional leaders were approached by the Namibian technical committee members to view the agreement, and agree to it, so that government can proceed in signing the agreement. 

Those who refused to agree on the terms of the agreement, New Era is reliably informed, are the recognised traditional leaders of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority, the Maharero Royal House and the Kambazembi Traditional Authority.

The Ovambanderu Traditional Authority, Vaalgras Traditional Authority, !Aman Traditional Authority, the /Hai-/Khaua clan of Berseba and other minority traditional authorities allegedly agreed to the deal.

One traditional leader who has been part of the reparations negotiations and who refused the agreement terms, yesterday confirmed that they were indeed consulted by the Namibian technical committee dealing with the matter, with the view of endorsing the agreement.

“We feel that what is being offered is too little, an insult to our community and totally different to what we, the chiefs, have agreed on. Things that we agreed on has been changed and what we are seeing in the agreement deal is just peanuts,” said the chief who refused to be named for fear of reprisal. 

“What the Germans are willing to pay is something in like 1.1 billion Euros over a period of 30 years and that is not what we agreed on.”

According to media reports in Germany, that country is expected to provide compensation by funding social projects benefiting the descendants of the survivors. 

The two countries have also allegedly agreed that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will offer a formal apology in the Namibian parliament. 

Namibia’s special envoy on the genocide Zed Ngavirue yesterday confirmed to New Era that the two countries have indeed reached an agreement but said he will rather wait for government to pronounce itself on the matter rather than “jumping the gun”.

“Yes, we have reached an agreement with the Germans but of the agreement is that the Germans will give a formal apology that should come from the highest office, but let us wait for our government to pronounce itself on the matter first,” Ngavirue said yesterday.   

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila earlier this year said the German government has shown willingness to revise the offer of reparations after the Namibian authorities rejected the initial offer.

“Germany has indicated that they were willing to give Namibia an amount of money for the implementation of projects. However, this amount is far below meaningful reparations,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told lawmakers in the National Assembly in March this year.

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. In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by the German as well as reparations. 

The negotiations have now taken close to five years. Namibia’s negotiation strategy is based on three pillars.

The Namibian negotiation team led by veteran diplomat Zed Ngavirue wants Germany to acknowledge to have committed genocide in Namibia during the period 1904-1908.

Germany would render an unconditional apology, delivered at the highest level to the Namibian government and people, in particular, the affected communities; and for Germany to pay reparations. 

Initially, the Namibians proposed to the German side to look at projects, as a way of not getting bogged down by the reparations quantum.

The said projects were to cover areas of water provision, rural and peri-urban electrification, road network construction, housing, education, vocational training, value addition, agricultural development, land acquisition and development.

 The projects were also to be implemented in the seven identified regions where the affected communities predominantly reside, such as the //Kharas, Hardap, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Erongo regions. 



2021-05-27  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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