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Genocide negotiations a ‘window of opportunity’ - Ngavirue

2019-03-25  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Genocide negotiations a ‘window of opportunity’ - Ngavirue
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WINDHOEK- The current administration of the Federal Republic of Germany under Chancellor Angel Merkel offers the genocide and reparations claim by Namibians for the 1904-1908 injustices committed by Imperial Germany, particularly the genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama, a ‘window of opportunity’, says Namibian envoy on genocide and reparations, Dr Zed Ngavirue. 

However, the political landscape in Germany is changing with Merkel headed for the exit door soon and enter political parties that are not well disposed towards the issue of genocide and reparations. 

Meaning, sooner or later this ‘window of opportunity’ that has the Namibian government with its envoy Ngavirue been engaging its German government represented by its envoy Ruprecht Polenz in negotiations could change. These talks dating back to 2017 effectively, when the two envoys were appointed by their two respective governments have been centering among others, on whether the atrocities committed by Imperial Germany in which 80 percent of the Ovaherero and more than 60 percent of the Nama perished at the hands of Geman military forces and attendant calamities is genocide, that apology be offered followed by the requisite and adequate atonement. 

Albeit Dr Ngavirue, the choice before the Namibian government and naturally him as the special envoy as indeed the affected communities, is to make hay while the sun is shining now as it seems albeit him by making use of  ‘window of opportunity’ of forfeit such and wait for another 20 years. Presumably the time it may take before another wind of change inclined towards the Namibian descendants of the victims of genocide as a result of the changing political landscape in Germany. Borrowing from the legal fraternity, he said justice delayed is justice denied and asked whether it is better and prudent to accept as an example N$10m, Germany may be prepared to offer now or rather wait for N$30m which may be realised only in twenty years from now. 

Ngavirue midmonth addressed the 96th commemoration of the death of Ovaherero Paramount Chief in Windhoek as the keynote speaker. He said during the latest round of negotiations between him and his German counterpart Polenz, the latter confided in him a beacon of hope that Namibia represents for Merkel and thus an example to the world, given the assistance she needs. Merkel’s view is informed by the influx of migrants into Europe, including Germany, from last year, putting Germany under a tremendous humanitarian challenge. 

According to Ngavirue, with Germany having accepted the term genocide and ready to apologise, the negotiations have now been on atonement, especially its quantum with Germany despise having no objections or refuting a single item in the Namibian government’s submission of July 6, 2017. This is except for the reparation cited in the submission which to this day has never been known publicly but which has been rumoured at N$500 billion. Germany has objected to this as too high counter-proposing development projects to which she has attached a certain figure but which also has not been revealed to the public and which Ngavirue would also not disclose. Admitting that genocide under international law, especially the UN Convention on Genocide, is a punishable crime, he nevertheless was categorical that this is not the case with negotiations which is a matter of give and take, as is the case with ongoing negotiations between Namibia and Germany on genocide and reparations, adding that the essence thereof is not to punish Germany. 

The said projects among others include housing, vocational training, electricity, land reform and even water provision. According to Ngavirue, this is what has to form the basis of the ongoing negotiations between the two countries. His latest brief has been to negotiate for an upping of whatever amount Germany has pegged to these projects. And this is what he seemed to be seeking a mandate, if his address at the 96th anniversary of Maharero is anything to go for, especially the audience on the night, members of the affected communities how far to push to get Germany to up her offerings. And most importantly for the affected communities to consider the changing world, including Germany with a strong opposition political party which is advocating for an alternative Germany. Underlying this new political dictum of an alternative Germany is not to continue to pay for whatever blame apportioned. Similarly for her, Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama genocide, which is the subject of the ongoing negotiations.  Ngavirue also pointed out that after everything have been said and done, disunity, especially between and among the affected communities has not been helping their own cause.  

2019-03-25  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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