The Presidency has called on the German ambassador in Namibia to show respect and common courtesy to the Namibian side as the two countries prepare to negotiate how best to address the German genocide committed against the Nama and Ovaherero during the first decade of the 20th century.
This follows recent remarks by German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga, who was quoted in the press saying Germany will not pay any money in reparation, but would rather increase its funding of Namibian projects.
Also, Ruprecht Polenz, Germany’s Special Envoy for the Genocide Talks recently informed Namibians that the matter should ideally be concluded by the end of December, as that country prepares to go to the polls next year. Polenz and Schlaga made the remarks after a meeting with President Hage Geingob and representatives of the descendants of the direct victims of the 1904-08 genocide.
The statements have sparked public outrage, as many wanted to know whether the negotiations have already been concluded. Former youth minister Kazenambo Kazenambo asked why the Namibian government is silent on the matter.
Geingob’s press secretary Albertus Aochamub yesterday said the meeting held at State House between the two parties agreed that the time is ripe to accelerate the pace toward closing the ugly chapter in “our history as fraternal countries sharing a special and unique bond”.
The meeting also agreed that the parties would pursue a common narrative in resolving this historic tragedy, while negotiations on the key issues of genocide, apology and reparations will commence between the parties as equal partners and not a situation where one party is treated as “a minor”.
The parties previously decided that if an agreement and consensus are reached after negotiations, the proposal would be presented to the respective cabinets and parliaments for final approval.
“Contrary to what was agreed and also considered common courtesy in delicate matters, such as we are faced with, the German counterparts seem to have shared what appears to be their position on the negotiations through the media,” Aochamub said.
“The position specifically relates to Germany’s stance on the question of reparations and where Germany seems to insist on no reparations being payable, except for the establishment of a Foundation for the Future.”
“It is also clear that Germany insists on rushing the negotiations, because they face an impending election in their country in the near future and, therefore, it seems that we are held hostage to a deadline before the negotiations have even commenced.
“Namibia takes serious exception to this unwelcome approach to such delicate discussions and call on the representatives of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to show respect and extend common courtesy to their Namibian counterparts,” he added.
He further warned that such behaviour does not auger well for future bilateral relations between the two sovereign states.
“We would urge and advise that our counterparts allow the negotiations to commence and be concluded logically. Failure to manage these processes with due care would jeopardise any chances of success and history will be very unkind in how we will be judged by future generations…”
Opposition joins fray
Meanwhile, several opposition parties have voiced concerns over the ongoing negotiations between the Namibian and the German governments.
DTA of Namibia president McHenry Venaani yesterday said without explicitly contesting whether reparations in the form of “developmental aid/projects” is the correct path to go, that it is disingenuous to enter negotiations with the stance that the German government will only consider reparations in that form.
“This is a condition which seeks to pre-empt the end result of the negotiation process and is thus not in good faith,” Venaani said in a statement, adding that it is worrying that the reparations proposed in the form of developmental aid may not be targeted specifically at the affected communities, but amounts to ordinary development aid.“I am not in principle opposed to attempts to accelerate the negotiation process,” Venaani said. However, such acceleration should be done in good faith and should not be open to potentially being perceived as a mockery of the pain and anguish that the affected communities carry with them to this day, he added.
He said his party remains hopeful the negotiation process will arrive at a result that is acceptable to the affected communities, the governments and people of both countries.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) secretary general Mike Kavekotora said the stance taken by the German government that reparations will only come in the form of developmental aid is an “arrogant decision” that should be condemned.
“The German government should not forget that we’re talking about lives that were lost, land that was lost and, moreover, they should also not forget that we, as the affected communities, have the capacity to take this matter to another level if needed,” said a fuming Kavekotora yesterday.
“The Germans should know that we waited for over a hundred years and we’re ready to wait for another hundred years, so there is no need to accelerate the issue,” he added.
National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) spokesperson Vetaruhe Kandorozu said the issue that troubles him is that Namibia is negotiating with a country that is yet to recognise the German colonial policy as genocide.