Fired up members of the opposition in parliament yesterday lashed out at the Namibian and German governments by roundly rejecting a recently agreed to genocide reparations pact, which included the European nation committing to fund projects in the country amounting to N$18 billion.
The agreement, which is based on the mass killing of the Nama and Ovaherero people by colonial Germany between 1904-1908, has been received with mixed feelings, especially among the affected communities.
This was no different in the National Assembly yesterday when opposition MPs responded to a ministerial statement by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who updated lawmakers on the recently concluded negotiations with Germany.
An emotional Joseph Kauadenge of Nudo slammed the prime minister’s statement, saying it was devoid of any truth. “The motion was passed in this House with three pillars.
"That Germany must acknowledge and render an unconditional apology and pay reparations.
"What is included in the joint declaration is more of developmental aid. The prime minister must withdraw the statement that the affected communities were consulted. That is devoid of any truth,” Kauandenge said.
“This money is not negotiable. Your government betrayed the Ovaherero and Nama people. Your government betrayed the legacy of Chief Kuaima Riruako. The Ovaherero and Nama people will condemn it (agreement) with the contempt it deserves.”
The National Assembly further degenerated into chaos when PDM MP Vipuakuje Muharukua labelled some Swapo lawmakers who hail from the affected communities as “sellouts”. Said Muharukua: “Kindly bring this declaration to parliament. For parliament to discuss it in and out. Do not sign this agreement, disregarding parliament. Those who are backbenchers from the affected communities have not been consulted.” Apart from committing to fund projects in the country, the Germans also agreed to send their president Frank-Walter Steinmeier to apologise and atone for its role in mass killings and property seizing.
‘We want Merkel’
Nudo president Esther Muinjangue, who chaired the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation between 2005-2020, demanded that Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel to apologise to affected communities instead of “sending a ceremonial president”. “Why is Angela Merkel not coming to make that apology? Konrad Adenauer apologised to the holocaust survivors. Apology cannot be done in parliament. The affected communities are not here,” she said. “When we speak about the issue of genocide, some of us tried to put ourselves in the shoes of those people. The 15 000 who looked like walking skeletons. My grandfather was a product of rape. When we talk about these things, we feel the pain.” LPM parliamentarian Edson Isaaks said what the two governments have agreed cannot be equated to what victims of the genocide lost. “They (government) have excluded communities. They have excluded groups of Namibians and chiefs of different types. This is apartheid that this government has committed,” he said before labelling the negotiations with Germany a “sham”. Youthful LPM MP Utaara Mootu criticised government for not consulting widely on the genocide issue. “People are emotional and are hurt. We have been excluded moving from resolutions made in 2006,” she said. The Germans have agreed to fund construction programmes that will benefit the descendants of the affected communities. This includes N$820 million for reconciliation, N$2.1 billion towards renewable energy projects, N$2.4 billion for vocational training, and N$1.6 billion for rural roads. The agreement with Germany also includes N$2.1 billion for rural water supply and sanitation, and a whopping N$8.8 billion towards land acquisition and training. RDP president Mike Kavekotora also provided some perspective on the issue. “I agree with the prime minister that this is a very sensitive issue. The whole process was run by people who cannot be defined as affected because they are part of government,” he said. “They (Germans) don’t want to commit themselves to the word genocide. I want to understand what the monetary value of genocide is for it to be non-negotiable, but the quantum is negotiable. What is the value of making genocide non-negotiable?” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday admitted the final settlement was not favourable. “We have indicated unequivocally that we are not in agreement with what has been offered,” she said. “The door of the Namibian government remains open, as it has always been for meaningful advice. Let us proceed together, in unity and speaking with one voice, in the best interests of the affected communities and the Namibian nation at large, until this matter is concluded. Let us continue to treat and accord this matter the sensitivity it deserves.”