Landless People Movement (LPM) deputy spokesperson Joyce Muzengua has labelled defence minister Frans Kapofi’s statement on genocide communities as “senseless”, saying the minister demonstrated a lack of knowledge and ignorance on the matter when he made the comment.
In an interview with the ruling party newsletter last month, Kapofi said it is delusional for the descendants of affected communities to think they can directly engage Germany on the genocide matter.
“This is irresponsible and senseless of this minister. There are legal instruments that clearly outline and protect the participation of victims of the crimes of genocide, and I’m sure that dull Kapofi is not even aware,” Muzengua, a genocide descendant, said.
She said the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples, and it is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
However, she said Kapofi seems to not have been aware of how both states are in violation of the obligation to respect the participation under Art. 25 ICCPR and many others.
“This is the reason we need the affected communities and their authentic leaders to represent them, rather than the likes of Kapofi, as they only view the genocide as a monetary opportunity,” she added.
Swapo member of parliament Kapofi said they have seen people who think they still stand a chance of directly talking to Germany, which he said is “delusional”.
“There is no way they will be able to make it by directly engaging Germany as a community,” Kapofi said in the interview.
“There is a government here, and the trust that seems to be lacking from their side is basically just political; it is not true that the government cannot deliver. It is by far not true,” he added.
In September 2021, Kapofi tabled a motion to discuss the joint declaration in the National Assembly.
The motion provoked heated debate inside and outside parliament, including a protest march by opposition parties on the day he tabled the motion.
Nampa yesterday reported ministry of information executive director Mbeuta Ua Ndjarakana has taken a swipe at Kapofi over his utterances.
The erstwhile Swapo party member did not mince his words when facing the defence minister in an interview on Tuesday.
From the genesis, Ua Ndjarakana said, it has been the affected communities that propelled the genocide reparations discussion.
“Prior to the late honourable Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako taking the bull by the horns and bringing this matter before the National Assembly [in 2006], the government of Namibia had not entertained the concerns regarding the atrocities and barbaric genocide meted out against the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama communities under German imperial and illegal rule of our country,” said Ua Ndjarakana.
With the Swapo elective congress just 11 months away, Ua Ndjarakana said the genocide subject should not be used for political expediency.
“Kapofi is a political animal, and the country is moving towards an epoch, particularly within the ruling party [Swapo] and government for a change of guard, where honourable Kapofi will be equally qualified to have aspirations to rise steadily in the ranks of the leadership of the ruling party through the upcoming congress and the next Cabinet, following the 2024 general elections,” he added.
Approached for comment, Kapofi said, “They are entitled to their views. Had my statement been as they described it, I would not have delivered it. We, in Swapo, stand by our statement”.
What is further peculiar for Ua Ndjarakana is the fact that the contested joint declaration on genocide, which culminated from bilateral talks, was tabled by the defence minister when the country has a substantive foreign affairs minister in Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
He then dismissed Kapofi’s claim that the current consternation and outright rejection of the agreement are politically motivated.
“What is actually political is for the ruling party and government to want to keep at bay the affected communities and their representatives,” he added.
More so, Ua Ndjarakana urged the government to include all interested parties.
“The dismissive manner in which
Kapofi is putting it shows that honourable Kapofi and his folk have deliberately continued to disregard the views of the affected communities and their leaders – and that is the worst thing that can be allowed to continue unchallenged,” a candid Ua Ndjarakana asserted.
Born in neighbouring Botswana 58 years ago, Ua Ndjarakana’s forebearers were pushed through the Kalahari, ending up in that country while fleeing the brunt of imperial Germany following General
Lothar von Trotha’s extermination order of 1904.
In October 1904, Lothar von Trotha, then commander-in-chief of the German colonial protection force in German South West Africa, in a letter informed the Ovaherero that they were no longer German subjects and, therefore, had to leave the country.
Up to 100 000 Ovaherero and Namas are believed to have been killed by German imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South West Africa.
In June last year, the German government has acknowledged the mass killings and agreed that Germany would apologise for
the genocide and extend financial assistance of N$18 billion in project funding over 30 years to the descendants of affected communities.
However, the majority of the affected communities, including opposition members of parliament, feel that Germany must do more to atone for its sins.