Plans are underway by the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama communities residing in Botswana to lodge claims of reparation against the German Federal Government. In a telephonic interview with New Era yesterday, acting spokesperson of the Botswana Interim Reparation and Genocide Group Jezenga Uezesa said they are mobilising other Ovaherero and Ovambanderu to launch the claim.
“We are busy mobilising our people this side to lodge a similar case, such as the one done by our people in Namibia,” said Uezesa. “I will brief you more as time goes by. Just call me back on our plans in two weeks’ time,” he added.
He believes since Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama communities in Botswana are directly affected by genocide, it will only be fair if they lodge their claim separately from the one being lodged in Namibia.
“We are the ones who are directly affected by the 1904 genocide, because we were displaced and severely deprived of our ancestral land,” he said. “Since we are not involved in the negotiations by our brothers and sisters in Namibia in their negotiations that side, we thought it’s better to lodge our own case this side,” he added.
Only after proper consultation among the aggrieved parties has taken place would they engage in negotiations with the Botswana government, Uezesa said.
Mbanderu Youth Association of Botswana (MYAB) chairperson Henda Uananisa Mandutu said he was not aware of any such intiative.
“As the Mbanderu Youth Association of Botswana, we’ve not been formally approached by anyone, nor invited to any discussion in that regard… unless of course some of my colleagues were invited to such forums in their individual capacities”, he said. He said the Mbanderu youth wing would await such appraisals and look forward to any engagement for their input on the matter.
Contacted for comment, Namibia’s special envoy on genocide and reparation, Dr Zed Ngavirue, yesterday said he was excited by the news. “That’s very good. That’s very good. In the end we want all African countries to support the case,” he said.
He said displaced people constitute one of the serious grounds of any demands for genocide reparations. “There has been meaningful interaction between our two committees on genocide and reparations with our people in the diaspora,” he said.
“I do not know whether in international law our government would be permitted to draw people with foreign citizenship into the negotiating structure we have created here,” he noted though.
The Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama communities in Botswana originate from Namibia and were settled in Botswana post-1904 after the German colonial army, known then as “Schutztruppe”, displaced them.
The Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama communities are widely dispersed across Botswana, with the majority residing in the north-western part of Botswana.