Dr Ngavirue and counterpart deserve the benefit of the doubt

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Dr Zed Ngavirue is the Namibian government’s special envoy to lead deliberations with his German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz, on matters relating to the 1904 – 1908 Genocide.

“Dr Zed Ngavirue will henceforth spearhead discussions with the German government on the 1904-1908 genocide,” wrote a section of the Namibian media following the media conference last Wednesday where Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, announced the appointment.
The integrity of Dr Ngavirue, let alone his deep grounding in history, cannot be overemphasised.

Adding to this is his intellectual prowess, inclination and finesse. All of the aforementioned are necessary, and perhaps sufficient, to make him the Namibian government’s envoy of choice in the matter at hand.
And as if all the enumerated are not necessary and sufficient, one can and may add ancestry as a direct descendant of the Ovaherero, one of the indigenous cultural groups that was explicitly targeted by Imperial Germany’s Extermination Order of October 2, 1904, issued by the then Commander of Germany’s Imperial Forces, General Lothar von Trotha.

That is why indigenous cultural groups should welcome Dr Ngavirue, not only in the belief that as an affected party in the matter he may have the requisite interest and passion, and may thus infuse into the vexed question the required and expected credibility and importance, but also the critical and crucial impetus in view of the stalling and dilly-dallying that befell the matter for years.

It is interesting that reference is being made ultimately, especially on the occasion of the appointment of Dr Ngavirue as a special envoy, to genocide.

This raises the hope, prematurely perhaps, that this time around the matter may ultimately be starting to assume an earnest intent, especially on the side of the Namibian government.

Hitherto in the eyes, and against all expectations of the affected communities, our government has been seen and perceived to have been disinterested in the demands of a section of its citizens.

Although urgency may eventually be setting in, this is only but the beginning. If one has to use the analogy of a plane taking off, and landing, these two stages can be the most uncertain and unpredictable.

Likewise one has as yet to see what Dr Ngavirue and his German counterpart’s take-off would look like. It took the two friendly governments, Namibian and German, three years of intense negotiations to reach this point.
But the first question springing immediately to mind is if the interaction has reached such an “intense” stage, isn’t it interesting that the governments seem to be sidestepping their responsibilities at a critical stage by shoving such to special envoys, their integrity and capabilities notwithstanding?

As the dialogue needs to intensify as per Nandi-Ndaitwah’s own realisation and admittance, is now not the time that the government fully embrace this matter with the requisite political will and serious intent, entrusting it thus to a formidable team to spearhead, instead of excusing it to a special envoy? The same can also be said of the German government. Is it not the time that both governments with no stops go all the way, in the person of Nandi-Ndaitwah herself, together with her German counterpart, Dr Frank-Steinmeier, if not any higher personas, in further spearheading this process? That is if what is left of the matter is not mere formalities that should be left to the special envoys. That is if the criticalities Hon. Nandi-Ndaitwah has alluded to are not just mere ironing out of the remaining trivialities, best left to the two special envoys. Ironing them and shepherding them to their logical conclusion the two foreign ministers have already hammered out what they may have all these past three years.

But what could this logical conclusion be? One interesting pointer emerging from the media conference where the appointment of Ngavirue was announced, is that somehow consultations would now be taking place with the affected communities, and the impression is that Dr Ngavirue and counterpart should shoulder this. It remains a matter of conjecture what realistically, at what seems the eleventh hour of the matter, Dr Ngavirue and co. should, is and would be expected to consult the affected communities about.

Is it and can it by any means be consultations, or on the contrary a matter of getting them to have a buy-in into a done deal? A deal perhaps that the two governments may have developed cold feet about in selling to their citizenry. Surely these are some of the matters that cannot but run into the minds of many an inquisitive and information-starved citizen, especially those from the affected communities in Namibia.

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