The executive director in the information ministry, Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana, has resigned from Swapo to protest government’s handling of the genocide reparations negotiations.
“The recent derailment of the motion on the genocide by the Swapo party government, from reparations and restorative justice to bilateral projects, support as a gesture of Germans’ goodwill and the continued behind-the-scenes campaign to woo our communities into accepting this deal was the last thing one can take,” Ua-Ndjarakana said during a press briefing in Windhoek yesterday.
Having joined the governing party in 1982 at the age of 19, he has been a Swapo member for 39 years. Ua-Ndjarakana said the recently concluded deal of funding for N$18 billion projects over 30 years has nothing to do with the reparation and restorative justice, saying the two should not be confused.
Ua-Ndjarakana said the Swapo-led government has for the last 31 years not cared or taken action to address the plight of the people emanating from the genocide. German soldiers killed around 65 000 Herero and 10 000 Nama people in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land seizures by colonists in what historians and the United Nations have long called the first genocide of the 20th century.
In May, Germany officially described the slaughter of Herero and Nama people in Namibia more than a century ago as genocide for the first time and agreed to fund projects. The senior civil servant’s protest follows after severe criticism from a long line of individuals and groups as soon as details of the purported deal were made public in late May.
Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro, who was recently laid to rest, dismissed the deal as “an insult” because it did not include payment of reparations. “That’s a black cat in the bag, instead of reparations for a crime against humanity,” said Rukoro.
“No self-respecting African will accept such an insult in this day and age from a so-called civilised European nation.”Former Cabinet minister Kazenambo Kazenambo, who passed on recently, said the signing and implementation of the deal between the Namibian and German governments will lead to civil strife – if not a new genocidal war.
Nama Genocide Technical Committee (NGTC) chairperson Ida Hoffmann in a statement in June branded the agreement by the two governments as a result of “clandestine bilateral negotiations” that remain largely disrespectful to the affected communities.
“We reject this dishonest deal outright, and call on all affected communities to disown the joint declaration and register their dissatisfaction in the strongest possible terms with both governments,” said the former MP.
She was of the opinion that both governments have failed dismally in seizing the opportunity to find a lasting, reconciliatory and restorative solution to the painful past of German colonial rule in Namibia.
Similarly, Hoveka Traditional Authority chief Turimuro Hoveka, Kambazembi Traditional Authority chief Sam Kambazembi, Ovambanderu Traditional Council chief Aletha Nguvauva, and Zeraeua Traditional Authority chief Rafael Kapia appealed in a joint statement yesterday to President Hage Geingob to do some serious rethinking – if not recalibration – before signing the purported agreement.
“If need be, that process does not only gain more credibility and legitimacy but it is greatly enhanced in terms of its substance.”Ua-Ndjarakana further claimed that no deliberate efforts were made for affirmative retribution for members of the genocide descendants either. Equally, he said, those who were repatriated from the diaspora have not enjoyed any attention.
“When we raised these issues in the highest echelons of the ruling party, we were viewed as noisy and mad people,” said Ua-Ndjarakana. He further accused the Swapo-led government of giving those who were displaced with second-tier citizenship as citizens by either neutralisation or registration but gave the children of fellow exiles citizenship by descent.
“The party had reduced us to mere hand-clappers for the love of our votes but no appreciation for our voice,” he said further. He said the Germans should be pressured by the international community through the United Nations (UN) so they own up to their inglorious history on the affected communities.
“The Namibian government should not side with the Germans in a bid to buy them a glittering face,” said Ua-Ndjarakana. He said he will stay in his position as the executive director at the information ministry.
“I was not given a job for comrades. I went for an interview, passed and got the job as a citizen of this country,” he said further. He also said he will not join any political party. “The issue at hand is not political. It’s a human rights issue. It’s for us to claim our human dignity from the Germans and, therefore, political bickering has no space in my life,” he stressed. Asked if his resignation will be followed by more, Ua-Ndjarakana said he is not going to mobilise people, as he was not mobilised by anybody but his conscious. “I leave it to their conscious,” Ua-Ndjarakana.
But he said there are people who are suffering more than him and advised them to stop suffering in silence. He stressed they liberated the country to be outspoken on bread and butter as well as life and death issues. The secretary general of Swapo, Sophia Shaningwa, said her office has not received Ua-Ndjarakana’s resignation.
“I did not get information in that regard. But up until I receive the official communication, it will be premature to react to hearsay,” said Shaningwa.The German and Namibian government in May concluded a deal in which the German government offered N$18 billion in projects for the next 30 years for its role in the genocide and property seizure. The Namibian government had initially proposed N$1.1 trillion, which the German government rejected.