In view of the recent visit, the third or so to Namibia by German special envoy on genocide negotiations since his appointment last year, one cannot but start wondering if the issue of genocide and restorative justice has not reached the Rubicon?
This is as far as the affected communities are concerned, and especially in view of the debacle during the German special envoy, Ruprecht Polenz’s meeting with a joint delegation of the Nama Technical Committee on Genocide and the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation.
“The German Embassy deeply deplores the course of events which prevented an important exchange of information including differing positions in a serious and professional manner adequate to the importance of the matter,” read an excerpt from the German embassy’s ‘press declaration” following the meeting. That was in reference to the affected communities walking out of the meeting unceremoniously in protest of what they described as the “disrespectful” utterances of Polenz, and the conduct of the German ambassador, Christian Schlaga, to try and hold them hostage in the German embassy where the meeting took place.
Offending to Clinton Swartbooi, Ida Hoffman and company were utterances by Polenz to the effect that genocide committed by Imperial Germany against Namibians could not be compared to the Jewish Holocaust in terms of numbers.
But albeit the delegation of the affected communities, any comparison between the two dark historical chapters was whether the model of restorative justice used in the restoration of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, could also not be applied in the case of restorative justice for Namibians?
Whatever the versions of the affected communities and the German embassy, what matters are the views of a section of the affected communities regarding the ongoing negotiations that are diametrically opposed to the ongoing negotiations. Hence the question whether in view of the obvious continuing intransigence of the German government, especially their attitude towards leaders of the affected communities, who as a matter of principle have declined to be part of the ongoing negotiations, have not now reached the Rubicon?
Rubicon in terms of the affected continuing to clearly define their cause without reference to anything else but only their cause, and charting and steering this cause all the way to eternity, if eternity is what it takes to realise restorative justice. Lest they are misquoted, misunderstood and misinterpreted, at times deliberately, of being desirous in joining the ongoing two governments’ negotiations, let alone being bothered or being concerned about what the two governments are doing and have been doing.
As a matter of principle the affected communities are and have been loud and clear that they cannot and shall never be part of the ongoing negotiations. Because they have not been designed and intended, let alone structured to advance their interests from their very inception and genesis because at no point were they consulted.
This is despite the fact that the issue of Genocide and Restorative Justice directly affects and has been affecting them. Thus they should not, and must not and cannot be mere invitees to, neither passive participants in, whatever initiative proposing and purporting to solve and address the issue of Genocide and Restorative Justice.
Yet the affected communities remain unconvinced, nor shall they ever be convinced in their current form, and intent, of their meaningfulness as far as their interests are concerned. This is until the two governments awaken from their slumber and illusion and engage the affected in real and truthful negotiations.
Following the visit by Polenz to the coast last month, a member of the affected communities there, in an article in the coastal weekly newspaper, Namib Times, carried this headline: “Kaapehi demands inclusivity in German-Namibian talks.” This is a generally understood notion publicly, and even by the two governments, that the affected communities want to be included in the ongoing talks.
How the said publication may have come to this headline is any wonder because surely this is not what Uahimisa Kaapehi’s statement spoke to. How one can and may reject something in principle and yet wants inclusion, is mindboggling. While there is an ever intermittent need for the affected communities to continue to clarify their position on this matter, at one point, if not now, surely they must reach the Rubicon to ever desire any audience with the German government, let alone with Polenz!
But rather to focus on their legitimate and principled demand and on how to push it to its logical conclusion. As some leaders of the genocide movement may have been understood through their statements at a recent media conference, it is and cannot be about who the Namibian government’s special envoy is, or his/her credentials, let alone of that of the German government, nor the contours of the ongoing negotiations between the two governments.
It is about the principle of the affected communities steering this cause, of course with the full backing and facilitation of their government! Anything short of this is nothing but a convolution and travesty of the demands of the affected communities for restorative justice.