Papers on Reparations to be Finalised

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Ovaherero and Ovambanderu communities affected by the 1904 genocide are gearing themselves towards finalising their position papers, which will form the basis for reparations. A meeting to be held in Otjinene this weekend forms part of the consultative meetings the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Council for Dialogue on 1904 Genocide Technical Committee has been holding with their communities on the issue. Only this time, they will finalise the framework for negotiations on the Compensatory Development Package earmarked for affected communities. The Otjinene meeting, the third to be held since the council was formed last year, will concretise the position papers as well as develop a proposal in preparation for possible negotiations for compensation. The war German colonial forces waged on Namibia resulted not only in the death of tens of thousands of Ovahereros, Namas and Damaras but also the loss of property and displacement. According to the committee, many Ovaherero and Ovambanderu have become displaced and settled elsewhere in South Africa and Botswana and have not wanted to come back home due to a lack of proper resettlement of the people that were affected by the war. The position paper will therefore guide the process of resolving the long-standing issue of reparations between the affected communities and the German government. After an apology, which was offered by German Minister of Economic cooperation, Heidemarie Wieckzoreck-Zeul at the Centenary Commemoration of the war at Okakarara in 2004, the affected communities have not yet been approached on how they need to be compensated. Secretary for the OCD-1904 Technical Committee, Ueriuka Tjikuua told the media yesterday that since no opportunity for them to present their demands has been availed to them, there was need for the groups to be prepared and not get caught unawares. “This is a paper to say for our wounds to be healed, we need A, B and C. This is what we want,” said Tjikuua. The paper will be presented to the government. Ueriuka said considering that other tribes such as Namas and Damaras were also affected by the war, the OCD-1904 Technical committee has approached them to formulate their papers, as the committee was only mandated to speak on behalf of their communities. “Other communities must prepare their own positions. As Ovahereros we don’t have the mandate to speak on behalf of other communities. “They must prepare their own position papers and the government must collect all of them to chart the way forward,” he added. Later in March, Chief Kuaima Riruako will also hold a meting in Okakarara to chart the way forward for the reparations and also to bridge the widening gap among the Ovaherero communities. But the OCD committee said since Riruako was not a paramount chief of the Ovahereros, he would not represent the views of all Ovahereros. “As far as we know it sounds like a political meeting, because Chief Riruako is an MP and president of NUDO,” said Tjikuua. Last year, the Namibian government refused to sign a package offered by the German government during a state visit of President Hifikepunye Pohamba. The two countries did not sign a memorandum of understanding according to which the German government would grant development aid amounting to 160 million Euros (approximately N$1.2 billion) spread over a 10-year period to certain Namibian regions, where communities affected by the German war reside. If the deal had been signed, it would in effect be reparations to Germany’s former colony for the massacre of the local Herero and Nama populations during the German colonial era, which lasted from 1884 to 1914. The Namibian delegation said they needed to consult further with officials in Windhoek before they could sign the agreement.