Kazenambo calls for fresh approach on genocide

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Former Swapo Member of Parliament Kazenambo Kazenambo yesterday said Namibia and Germany must change their approach on the issue of the 1904 genocide against Namas and OvaHerero.
The way all stakeholders have addressed the issues thus far has proven ineffective, the former youth and sport minister observed. “We seriously need to take stock of ourselves through various stakeholders, be it the media, political establishment and the affected communities,” said the vocal politician.
Kazenambo’s suggestion came a week after German Member of Parliament of the Social Democratic Party, Dr Karamba Diaby, urged the German government to acknowledge unambiguously the 1904 genocide committed by the German colonial authorities in Namibia as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Kazenambo said there has been a lot of “talking” on the matter, without decisive action being taken. “Talking, talking and talking alone will never be enough and will never be enough because this issue involves a human tragedy,” the politician-turned-businessman said.
He added that this is a case in the moral fabric of international politics; it is a case in human relations that will continue to haunt generations and generations to come.
On the home front, Kazenambo suggested that Namibia develop political will on the subject and make it a national issue.
“We need to ask ourselves how we can accommodate all other Namibians in a dignified manner on this issue,” he stressed.
“We need to overcome our differences and unite on this matter. After we do that we can formulate a policy at national level through parliament then we can use that instrument against the German government,” he said.
The current political stability in both Germany and Namibia could be used as an opportunity to address the genocide subject, Kazenambo opined.
“We should use other cases such as reparation that was paid to the Jews; we should use the attitude that the Germans employed to unite the once divided Germany,” he said.
For over a decade, the OvaHerero, Ovambanderu and Nama people have sought reparation from Germany.
In 2001, they filed a US$4 billion (£2.17bn) lawsuit against the government and two German firms in the US. But Germany dismissed the claim, saying international rules on the protection of combatants and civilians were not in existence at the time of that conflict.
The then Commander of the German Imperial Forces, General Lothar von Trotha issued an extermination order against the OvaHerero on October 12, 1904, and this led to the death of between 65 000 and 80 000 OvaHerero and Nama people, who were either killed in subsequent battles or died of thirst and starvation as they were driven into the arid Omaheke desert.
Meanwhile, the OvaHerero Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro has set October 2 this year as the deadline for the German government to respond to the demands of the OvaHerero and Nama communities on the issue of genocide reparation.
Speaking at Okahandja recently, Rukoro demanded acknowledgement, in principle, by the German government before October 2, 2015, that they are amenable to pay the two affected communities for the genocide committed against their ancestors, pertaining to the extermination order by Von Trotha.
Rukoro said the two communities demand an apology from the highest German political office in Berlin for the crimes of genocide committed against their people by the then colonial German government in Namibia.

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