The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has confirmed that official talks regarding the classification as ‘genocide’ of the 1904-08 war against the Ovaherero, Nama and San people, as well as the issue of reparations, are underway between Namibia and Germany.
Nandi-Ndaitwah, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed that she has had several meetings with German representatives, including a delegation that visited the country recently, and telephonic contact with the German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as the German Ambassador to Namibia, Onno Hückmann.
Nandi-Ndaitwah was not prepared to go into detail about the content of her discussions with her German counterparts, noting that there are still a number of issues she needed to get clarification on before she could take it to Cabinet.
“Of course, one of the issues we discussed was the use of the word ‘genocide’, as well as many other things that I needed to get information on, but only when I get that information can I discuss this with parliament,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah, who confirmed the resumption of formal talks on the issue between Namibia and Germany in an exclusive interview with New Era.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said she is ready to brief Cabinet regarding the ongoing dialogue with the Federal Republic of Germany over the issue of genocide committed by German colonial forces, as well as reparations to Namibia.
Once she has tabled her report she would be in a position – within the next two weeks – to share the outcome of their deliberations and the resolutions of Cabinet on the issue.
Asked about the position of the government on the issue, she said: “The government is not Netumbo. Of course Netumbo is a representative of government, therefore my duty is to get all the necessary information, put it together and then present it to Cabinet, which will make a collective decision based on the information. Only at that point things will be clear enough for me to say, ‘This is the position of the government’.”
In May this year the Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, announced a deadline of October 2, 2015, for the German government to apologise and respond to the Ovaherero people’s demand for reparations.
“We demand acknowledgement, in principle, by the German government before 2 October 2015 that they are amenable to pay the two affected communities for the genocide committed against their ancestors, pursuant to the official decree extermination orders by the then German Army General Lothar von Trotha,” he said.
A number of high-profile personalities in Germany have recently called on the Federal German government to recognise the actions of the German colonial army in 1904-08 as genocide, including the President of the German Parliament, Dr Norbert Lammert. The spokesperson of the German Foreign Office, Martin Schaefer, has also hinted that the German government may soon recognise what happened in then German South West Africa as genocide.
It is believed that during the period 1904-08 the vast majority of Nama and OvaHerero people were slain by German soldiers, driven into the desert or worked to death, following the infamous ‘extermination order’ issued by then Commander of the German Imperial Forces, General Lothar von Trotha.