The Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Council for Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (ODC-1904) has applauded government for creating “appropriate structures” to spearhead the negotiations with Germany.
The Ovaherero and the Nama communities are the complainants in the reparations case that seeks to hold the German government accountable for atrocities committed by German imperial troops during the 1904-1908 war, widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century.
President Hage Geingob late last year appointed Dr Zed Ngavirue as government’s special envoy to lead deliberations with his German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz.
The office of Vice President Nicky Iyambo is tasked with dealing with the genocide reparation demands. The group – which is not part of the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Genocide Forum (OGF) led by Advocate Vekuii Rukoro – said this at press briefing in Windhoek last week.
“The ODC-1904 welcomed the undertaking of our government to come up with the necessary structures to oversee and steer this very important process of negotiations, including the appointment of Ngavirue and its bilateral negotiation with the German government,” said Uendjiundja Katjaita, who read a statement on behalf of the group.
Katjaita said it is clear that no deliberations about genocide should take place without the direct involvement of the descendants of the victims of the genocide. The group also wants the Namibian government to include chiefs of various Ovaherero and Nama traditional authorities in the genocide negotiation talks. “We believe such a gesture will go a long way in promoting inclusivity and participation in the process of the reparation structure, as essential features to political legitimacy of both the process and outcome of the bilateral negotiation,” she said.
Katjaita also called on the German government to tender an unconditional apology to the descendants of the victims of the 1904 genocide and to express an unambiguous commitment to ensuring the swift location and return of the skeletal remains of all Namibians, as well as other artefacts of significance to the affected communities.
She also called on affected communities to remain calm and not to be confused by false propaganda, apparently propagated by greedy and opportunistic individuals out to destroy the cause of restorative justice for their self-serving interests.
“Give the leaders of the OCD 1904 ample time to engage our government and provide it with the necessary weapons and ammunition for it to be able to negotiate successfully,” she concluded.
The ODC 1904 is comprised mostly of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama chiefs recognised by government.