Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani believes the genocide agreement between Namibia and Germany, which includes the European nation setting aside about N$18 billion to aid local projects over 30 years, is not about atoning for the atrocities committed against the Ovaherero and Nama people but a continuation of foreign aid. “The €1.1 billion that is being offered to the affected communities by the German government is equivalent to the amount that the German government has in any case donated to the Namibian government in foreign aid since our independence,” a fired-up Venaani told parliament while contributing to the motion recently tabled by defence minister Frans Kapofi. “The proposed €1.1 billion, spanning over 30 years, is to all intents and purposes a continuation of foreign aid to a client state that Namibia is to Germany. It is not about atoning for the atrocities committed against the Ovaherero and Nama people.” According to Venaani, the “insignificance” of the quantum proposed by Germany cannot be any less than an affront to the affected communities in question.
“For instance, in 2018, the German government set aside €1.1 billion for the production of battery cells for motor vehicles. Let us not forget that during the peak of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the German government set aside the same €1.1 billion as stimulus for the revival of the German arts and culture industry.
Can we really argue that the immeasurable losses suffered by the Herero and Nama people can amount to the same budget given to the production of battery cells and the revival of the arts and culture industry in Germany? The answer is ‘no’! This is a flagrant display of arrogance by the German government towards the affected communities and should not be construed any less.”
Venaani further accused the German and Namibian governments of having failed to comprehend and appreciate the damage of the colonial-era massacres of Ovaherero and Nama.
Venaani has further proposed that government renegotiate the terms of the whole genocide agreement, with parliament contributing robustly to the final agreement.
“For this, we need to reinforce a stronger parliamentary role going forward,” he said.
“In the same vein, the government must engage with the representatives of the affected communities both at home and in the diaspora. It is their birthright to be involved in these talks. Hence, the chant we heard during the recently held demonstrations against this very agreement was: ‘Nothing about us without us!’ – This rings especially true for the Nama and OvaHerero in the diaspora. They must be part of the story; just as they were part of the painful past.”
The affected communities and opposition parliamentarians have rejected the agreement – and last week, as government was preparing to table the motion to debate the deal in parliament, they protested.
Hundreds of Namibians marched from Katutura to parliament to deliver a petition decrying the deal.
Germany in May acknowledged it had committed genocide in colonial-era Namibia after over five years of negotiating with Namibia. Kapofi, who tabled the joint declaration, urged fellow lawmakers to remain calm when debating the contentious genocide agreement in parliament.
The German offer is before parliament for ratification.
Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century.
German troops massacred and displaced tens of thousands of Namibians in 1904-1908.
In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by the German as well as reparations.