• September 25th, 2018
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Exit reparations enter reconciliation projects

Columns, Comment
Columns, Comment

The media was last week awash with reports about a “reconciliation fund” which the government of the Federal Republic of Namibia, in particular their diplomatic envoy in Namibia, the German ambassador Christian Schlaga, has been keeping in his briefcase. For how long the ambassador has been keeping this document in his briefcase is not known but any ardent observer of the genocide and reparation case between the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, and descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 genocide, can surely not take too much guessing how long this document may have been in the ambassador’s briefcase. Because the concept of a reconciliation fund has very much been part of the agenda of the German government since the demand of the victims of the 1904-1908 genocide started to pick up momentum shortly after the centenary commemoration of the genocide in 2004. Many may recall that during the buildup to the centenary commemoration of the genocide in 2004, the issue of reconciliation was popped up by the churches, with the particular mention of Bishop Reinhardt Keding of DELK (the German-speaking Lutheran Church in Namibia), and Bishop Zephania Kameeta. “Our prime goal in our bilateral cooperation is to help Namibia overcome poverty and strengthen its economy and infrastructure,” said then German ambassador to Namibia, Dr Wolfgang Massing in 2004 during the centenary commemoration in Okahandja. Following the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Ohamakari in August 2004, then German Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, introduced the Special Initiative. This underlines that the official policy of the German government as far as the issue of genocide and reparation is concerned, in the words of Ambassador Massing way back in 2004, has been the policy: “The German Government lives up to its historical responsibility by establishing a special relationship with independent Namibia. Since 1990, Namibia has been receiving more than 500 million Euro for its own development.” Thus, in this context and background it is difficult to understand and see the said proposals for reconciliation projects as per Schlaga differently from the age-old position of the German government as has been evidenced by bilateral aid between Namibia and Germany, including the Special Initiative. The same time the media revealed the existence of the proposals on reconciliation projects a team of the victims of genocide has been criss-crossing the country. And their mission could not have been mistaken. In the words of the members of this roadshow, this has been to consult people in areas affected by the 1904-1908 genocide. Bluntly put, to consult the victims of genocide. The Namibian government’s special envoy on the genocide and reparations negotiations, could also not have been anything but categorically clear yesterday morning on NBC’s Otjiherero language service current affairs programme ‘Keetute’. Confirming the roadshow he was also categorical about the need to consult communities as currently working groups are mapping out a “reconstruction” plan to eventually give the German government feedback. It is not only mindboggling but confusing as to how the very same people who have been engaged with the German government as part of the ongoing negotiations on genocide and reparation between the Namibian and German governments, could not be consulting the victims they may have been representing at these negotiations while the status of these negotiations is uncertain at this stage in view of the fact that they have not been concluded. The essence and meaning of these consultations are also baffling in the sense that the Namibian government, purportedly on behalf of the victims, has submitted its position on genocide and reparation which very much remain a subject of the ongoing negotiations. That unless if the reconciliation project is anything to go by, Germany, as far as she is concerned, this deal is about the reconciliation projects proposals. Can thus one not conclude from this that reparations, for the German government, are not on the agenda? Many a time Germany has been on record that genocide and reparations are not on the agenda but “atrocities” and reconciliation fund or development assistance to help alleviate poverty.
2018-02-09 10:19:49 7 months ago
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