While the letter and spirit of the National Assembly resolution and the efforts of then minister of foreign affairs, Utoni Nujoma, remain the basis for the involvement of the Namibian government in the issue of genocide and reparation, the government has currently adopted an approach that distances the very Namibian victims of genocide, say the Ovaherero and Nama.
The charge was made by the OvaHerero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, on behalf of the OvaHerero and Nama at a fully packed media conference held at the UN Plaza yesterday.
The National Assembly had resolved that the government should be an interested party in any discussion between its nationals and the German government on the issue of reparation.
It wants dialogue to be convened between the German and Namibian governments and the representatives of the affected parties to try and resolve the matter amicably and thereby strengthen and solidify the existing excellent relations between the two countries.
Nujoma had then said in his capacity as foreign minister: “We see the role of the Namibian government as a mediator between the German government and the affected communities and we do wish to facilitate a process of reconciliation.
“I would also like to reiterate that the Namibian government cannot work against the interest of its people.”
However, amid the resolution of the National Assembly and the ministerial statement, Chief Rukoro said they have seen a “nasty and shocking turn of events of late with government having adopted an approach that is not only alienating the very victims it must assist, but which is running against all conceivable instruments it has to rely on to take on the German government if it were to pursue reparation for the genocide”.
He said that by adopting the strategy of excluding the affected communities, government is not only actively working against the victims of the genocide but is also in flagrant violation of the National Assembly resolution.
“It contradicts the well-articulated position of the executive branch of government by Nujoma, which by any standard represents a comprehensive, definitive and correct interpretation of the National Assembly resolution,” he added.
Rukoro said that worst of all, the current stance of government to exclude the affected communities and to usurp their heritage runs counter to all international conventions and protocols on the genocide and reparation.
Furthermore, Rukoro lamented the appointment of Dr Zed Ngavirue as the genocide special envoy and the creation of the apparent government structures that would consolidate the position on which basis it is going to engage its German counterpart.
“Both these initiatives, we must add, were done without the consultation or input from us, the victim communities,” Rukoro said.
He said this does not only raise suspicions about the government’s real motives, but also about the content of what would eventually be negotiated with the Germans.
“We are happy to have our government play a role as we the victims negotiate with the German government,” he stressed, adding however that such role should be agreed between the victims and the government.
Rukoro said they have written two letters to President Hage Geingob, to which they are still to receive a reply.
In one letter, he said, they requested an audience with Geingob while in the other letter they provided reasons why they could not see themselves participating in a process whose final product they would not have control over.
“Our position … is very clear, we are not going to participate in the current structures that government created to replace the victim communities and take their place at the negotiation table with the Germans,” he said.
The media briefing was attended by close to 2 000 people including the former SWATF/Koevoet members that have been camping at the Ovaherero Commando since the beginning of the year.
Among the many traditional leaders in attendance were Chief David Fredericks of Bethanie, Chief Turimuro Hoveka of the Hoveka Royal House and Chief Sam Kambazembi of the Kambazembi Royal House.