Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi has equated government’s genocide deal with chief Joseph Fredericks II being swindled by an “unscrupulous” German businessman in April 1883.
He said the chief then “saw a commercial deal, a development process, perhaps an opportunity” when he gave away 1 400 square km of land to Heinrich Vogelsang in exchange for 200 rifles. Swartbooi said the German took more land, and later confiscated the guns.
“Today, the Swapo party government is marketing and selling this joint declaration deal as a major victory for infrastructure development and reconstruction.
An opportunity, some proponents of the deal tell the communities. They should pause and ask why there is so much opposition. Are they trusting themselves and the Germans more than the house, or is there a treachery hidden elsewhere?”
He also warned if Swapo bulldozes the genocide agreement through, it would allow his party and affected communities to institute legal action. “At independence in 1990…the Namibian government for its part agreed that continuing German development aid, together with the German Democratic Republic’s support for Swapo during the struggle for independence against South Africa, made reparations payments void,” he said. The opposition parliamentarian questioned how the government arrived at a quantum.
“If the size of land taken, the livestock taken, none of it is mentioned in numerical terms - what have they used to arrive at the amount they state in the document?” Swartbooi questioned. “This declaration does not even do the honourable thing to highlight how many Ovaherero, Mbanderu, Nama, Damaras and San were exterminated: large parts, some significant numbers of indigenous people, many thousands… that is the language they use”.
Swartbooi added that the number of people and the land lost as well as the riches taken are not mentioned in the joint declaration because the Germans would be confronted by the real figure and the real damage they are just simply not prepared to repair.
“But there is another reason why they are not specific with the numbers - the negotiations were not reparations negotiations.
They were development projects negotiations,” he said. He suggested that the motion be withdrawn and that real discussions be jump-started, with all affected communities represented.
Berlin has promised financial support worth N$18 billion over 30 years to aid projects in the country.
According to the joint declaration, projects will be implemented in the Erongo, Hardap, //Kharas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions within the sectors of land reform and development, agriculture, rural livelihoods and natural resources, rural infrastructure, energy and water supply, as well as technical and vocational education and training.