Vice-President Nickey Iyambo has vowed never to give up on those Ovaherero and Nama communities who currently refuse to work with the government in the ongoing dialogue with the German government over the massacre of Nama and Ovaherero people by German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908.
Iyambo further urged those communities who are not working with the government on the genocide issue to seek the best possible way to find closure in response to the atrocities committed against their ancestors and to join government in resolving the issue, as it is not too late.
The vice-president made the remarks at a press briefing on Friday when he announced the Namibian delegation to kick-start the negotiation process with Germany, which left for Berlin on Friday night. He said government remains committed to involving all affected communities and to negotiate the best outcome for “all Namibian people, especially the most severely affected communities”.
“In the beginning we called them all and we invited them and they all came, as they were invited. They came, stated their positions clearly and there were those who decided to work with government and others refused,” Iyambo said. “Various groups of people came to express themselves and showed interest in helping government find solutions to the challenges we face and they got my blessings to go ahead.
“Our doors remain open… even the door of the president of this country. I even carried out a private initiative to go through the medium of colleagues and asked for those communities who are not working with government to come [on board]. Some changed their mind and joined government, others still refused. Still I have not given up on them. There is no reason to give up. I will continue opening my door for them to come and join government.”
Namibia’s Special Envoy on Genocide, Dr Zed Ngavirue, is leading the Namibian delegation to Germany and will be joined by government officials and those traditional groups working with government.
The delegation, which will meet with Ngavirue’s German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz, is expected to return to Namibia by the end of the week.
“This is the fourth engagement, following three preparatory and preliminary meetings between the two envoys to prepare the framework for the substantive negotiations,” Iyambo noted. He further said this puts to bed notions that the Namibian government has been negotiating with the Germans in secret, as this week’s meeting between the envoys would mark the start of the negotiation process.
“The next round marks the commencement of actual negotiations between Namibia and Germany.”
He said Namibia’s negotiating position was refined through seven months of intensive work by a technical committee, consisting of academics, historians, legal and economic experts, Namibian diplomats and members of the affected communities, all well-versed in the history of anti-colonial resistance. “We, as a nation, rise to this challenge and in sending our delegation to Berlin, we act as an independent, proud and free people,” he concluded.