International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah believes none of the parties can claim victory from the recently concluded genocide negotiations as no government or impacted communities succeeded in getting exactly what they set out to gain.
“I want to make it crystal clear that, none of us is saying we have got all that we wanted,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told lawmakers this week during the debate of the joint declaration on reconciliation between Namibia and Germany.
“However, credit should be given where it is due. Our team has done a commendable job. Notwithstanding their initial resistance, the German negotiating team eventually assented to concessions by agreeing to the fact that Germany committed genocide in Namibia,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
Germany massacred an estimated 80 000 Ovaherero and Nama at the turn of the 20th century.
This year, it agreed to apologise for the genocide and extend financial assistance of N$18 billion to aid projects around the country over 30 years.
However, the agreement has been received with mixed feelings, with some of the affected communities saying the deal is an insult while others have accepted the offer.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the joint declaration is a clear attestation that in spite of the challenging environment and inherent constrains of political negotiations, the Namibian negotiators have by some measure succeeded in committing their German counterparts to come to an affirmation based on the acknowledgement contained in the Preamble of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
“Having obtained Germany’s commitment is by no small measure a major achievement, but as a government, we have not allowed these to get to our heads. We remain focused on the bigger picture that there can be no atonement without proper and genuine reparations based on an acceptable quantum amount,” she said.
She added negotiations were stalled by the Germans inflexibility when it came to the acceptance of Namibia’s demand for the payment of reparations.
Instead, she said, Germany offered to pay for reconciliation and reconstruction through reconciliation and development programmes for the benefit of the affected communities.
“This places us as government as well as our negotiating team in a precarious situation,” she stressed.
She said the Namibian negotiation team was guided by the mover of the 2006 genocide motion then Nudo leader and late Ovaherero paramount chief Kuaima Riruako.
According to Nandi-Ndaitwah, the Namibian negotiation team, after consultation with government leaders, as well as representatives of the affected communities who were part of the negotiation process, assented to the offer by their German counterpart.
“The offer is in a form of a monetary compensation towards reconciliation and reconstruction programmes for the development of the descendants of the affected communities, in line with their identified needs,” she said.
The acceptance, Nandi-Ndaitwah said, was however conceived on the basis that although this first ever official undertakings by Germany may not fully meet Namibia’s expectations, it constituted the first step in the structured journey “that we will have to walk in Namibia’s quest for justice and atonement to the untold hardships inflicted on the Ovaherero and Nama communities”.