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Opinion: Open letter to President Hage Geingob

2021-06-17  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Open letter to President Hage Geingob
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Comrade President, permit me to share with you and your administration my thoughts regarding the recently announced reconciliation agreement between our government, which is the government of the Republic of Namibia, you have the honour, privilege and pleasure of leading, and the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

It is my considered view that the process that has led to the agreement was littered with inconsistencies, irrelevancies and the exclusion of the majority of the descendants of the survivors of the genocide, both in Namibia and in the diaspora, as well as a lack of transparency and a comprehensive consultative process.

Similarly, the content of the agreement lacks in many respects in that important and critical items have not been included. For example generational justice, lost lives, and no funds for the Namibian descendants of the genocide victims in the diaspora. To make matters worse, the meagre, inhumane figure of N$18.6 billion over a period of 30 years is an insult to our government, the descendants of the survivors of genocide, Namibia, Africa and indeed the entire peace-loving and progressive humanity globally.  

In this respect, Comrade President, please humbly allow me to indulge your good judicious, considerate and foresighted self that at this juncture, when a groundswell of the affected communities do not seem happy with the reconciliation agreement, we go back to the drawing board with the genocide negotiations process so as to have a broad, consultative,  inclusive and genuine exercise, irrespective of who is in power in the Federal Republic of Germany.

I have arrived at this opinion having considered the  following issues:

From the recent public statements, first by the Right Honourable Prime Minister, and then His Excellency President Hage Geingob, one cannot but conclude that the Ovaherero and Nama communities, as far as the approach to and handling of their demands for reparations for genocide are concerned, have been treated like step-children.

Reparations are compensation for harm that was done. Reparations are an inalienable right of the injured party, founded on independent factual and legal grounds. An apology alone is not enough. The apology must be accompanied by redemption - settling the legal and moral debt. Condemnation or admission, followed by punishment and atonement, are the paths to closure. A way forward is to pursue the standard measure of compensation in such circumstances: reversible harm should be reversed; irreversible harm should be compensated. 

Moreover, the Germans’ pre-and post-genocide land grab cannot be legitimated, even if facilitated by the Namibian Constitution under the guise of protecting private property. Criminals are not, and should not be, entitled to stolen property. The international standard for compensation is that it’s “prompt, adequate and effective.” Parties denied timely compensation are entitled to delayed damages in the form of reparations.

The German and Namibian governments all have profited, and continue to profit from denial and delays in reparations in that all have displayed a lacklustre attitude towards this issue. Subsequently, they have taken an unjustified protracted delay in the six years of negotiations, only to come up with a pathetic and laughable figure of 1.1 billion euro as aid. But the enormity of the injury was by most accounts unprecedented at the time, and has since been compounded over the years. 

Similarly, the date of 28 May that we proposed in the National Assembly to be considered as Genocide Remembrance Day has not been acceptable to Cabinet, and therefore to date has not been gazetted. 

This motion was tabled on 16 June 2016, seeking the enactment or declaration of a Genocide Remembrance Day, and enjoyed the undivided unanimity imbued by a resolute patriotic national spirit that led to a broad, countrywide consensus on the most suitable date to be chosen as Genocide Remembrance Day: 28 May.

Neither recognition, apology nor reparations should be in the exclusive bilateral dialogue between the governments of the Republic of Namibia and the Federal Republic of Germany without the full and comprehensive inclusion of the Ovaherero and Nama communities.

 Unresolved issues would sow the seeds of future discord and disputes. The descendants of the survivors of genocide should not be afraid to state the real extent of the harm that was caused, and should insist on the fullest compensation possible, supported by law and facts. At this stage, all potential claims that have a basis in law or justice should be fully considered. Claims should not be discounted on grounds of improbability, tactics or strategy.

My concerns are primarily based on the following considerations:

 

The Process

The descendants of the survivors of genocide residing in the diaspora have totally been excluded from the process.

No direct government briefings have taken place with the affected communities, thus no ownership of the process by the concerned communities.

 Consequently, no consensus has been reached regarding the expected outcomes, desires and expectations of the descendants of the survivors of the genocide victims on whose behalf government has purportedly been negotiating with Germany.

 

Content of the agreement

Generational justice has not been built into the funding agreement, as no money has been included to fund future generations.

The agreement does not contain funding of our communities who are in the diaspora as legitimate and equal beneficiaries of reparations.

In the light of the foregoing points, I humbly request Cde President to consider the   following:

That the German President not be invited before the agreement has been renegotiated to take the comprehensive interest of the descendants of the survivors of the genocide into account, including those in the diaspora;

The imminent agreement not be signed unless the aforementioned  matters  have been adequately addressed;

 

The envisaged new process

To assist your good office when considering my request and aide the possible new process, I compiled together with others the following:

 

An alternative negotiations approach 

It outlines parameters for a comprehensive, genuine apology; acceptable consultative process; and explains on the basis of the United Nations Reparations Principles the specific items to be costed in the reparations calculations; and the imperative of the full participation in the negotiation process by the descendants of the genocide victims who are in the diaspora is spelled out.

 

A proposed reparations calculations

A summary of the detailed spread-sheet calculations presents a totally different figure from what has been agreed by your government and Germany. Therefore, I find my estimates more realistic, given the enormity of the sufferings of our people.

RESTITUTION N$84.9 billion

 

COMPENSATION N$803 billion

 

REHABILITATION N$980 billion

 

SATISFACTION 

(Declaratory Judgement) N$30 billion

 

GUARANTEES FOR NON-REPETITION               N$30 billion


2021-06-17  Staff Reporter

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