Genocide reparation negotiations between the German and Namibian governments should be placed on hold and a new process started afresh with the goal of reparations, not projects, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has said.
Venaani said this last week while contributing to the budget debate in the National Assembly. “The mere fact that the negotiation team at this point in time is negotiating projects after having failed to agree with the Germans on the quantum of the reparations, we think that the government is taking a wrong course,” Venaani said.
“Government must go back on course and renegotiate on the quantum of what we must get and not on the projects because by starting to negotiate on projects, you are agreeing with the Germans when they say that they can only give you what they can, and this denotes the struggle of the just and fair purpose.”
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila recently said the German government has shown willingness to revise the offer of reparations to Namibian communities over the genocide in colonial Namibia more than 100 years ago.
The latest undertaking comes after the initial offer was rejected by the Namibian authorities. “Germany has indicated that they were willing to give Namibia an amount of money for the implementation of projects. However, this amount is far below meaningful reparations,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told lawmakers in the National Assembly recently while updating the nation on the status of the genocide negotiations between the two governments.
Venaani said the atrocities committed by Germany against the Nama and the Ovaherero have a hallmark of genocide, therefore he believes, what the Germans are offering Namibia is “very little”. “The N$1 billion technical cooperation they are offering to the affected communities is very little.” Venaani said.
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 development aid. The negotiations have now taken close to five years. Namibia’s negotiation strategy is based on three pillars, which is genocide, apology and reparations.
The Namibian negotiation team led by veteran diplomat Zed Ngavirue wants Germany to acknowledge to have committed genocide in Namibia during the period 1904-1908, Germany to render an unconditional apology, delivered at the highest level to the Namibian government and people, in particular, the affected communities; and for Germany to pay reparations. Initially, the Namibians proposed to the German side to look at projects, as a way of moving away and not be bogged down by the reparations quantum.
The said projects were to cover areas of water provision, rural and peri-urban electrification, road network construction, housing, education, vocational training, value addition, agricultural development, land acquisition and development.
The projects were also to be implemented in the seven identified regions where the affected communities predominantly reside, such as the //Kharas, Hardap, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Erongo regions.