Will the year 2017 be annus mirabilis or horribilis? The answer entirely depends on who you are talking to their circumstances.
On the local political front, one cannot but think about the Swapo elective congress scheduled for this year. Is this to continue the tradition of a one centre of power where the party president is also president of the country?
Likewise across the Orange River, neighbours South Africa will be engulfed in the search for a new president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and probably the next president of the country. Further afield, the USA will the ascendency to executive political power of Donald Trump, whose election last year sent the world in shock.
Here at home, there is also the long-awaited second national land conference scheduled for September. All these happenings make one ponder if all these could mean mirablis or horribilis? Also at home, the issue of genocide will in all likelihood dominate discourse as affected communities seek justice from Germany who is being asked to pay for her actions.
Such unjust actions include brutalities that stopped short of annihilation of Ovaherero-Ovambanderu and Nama people. The campaign by the affected communities to compel successive German authorities to atone for such injustices and brutalities will surely continue in 2017.
This demand of the affected communities has come to be generally known in Namibia as reparation or restoration. Whatever terminology, the principle is still that of demanding practical justice for these communities.
In 2015 the Namibian government and its German counterpart appointed two special envoys on the issue in the persons of Dr Zedekia Ngavirue and Ruprecht Polenz, respectively, to head negotiations on the issue. By June this year an agreement between the two governments is predicted and expected to have been hammered out, sealed and delivered.
While this has been the official narrative, the feeling of the affected communities has not been very optimistic but suspect. The ongoing negotiations have been without their participation, or a notable section of them. They have thus rendered such negotiations a non-starter and doubt the quality of their final product.
The affected communities want the Federal Republic of Germany to engage them directly and purposefully as main proponents of the cause for restorative justice and as bona fide claimants of such justice. “Nothing about us without us” has been their clarion call.
The grapevine has it that there are some ominous signs that this centre of the restorative movement may soon be no longer holding due to machinations deployed by the powers to co-opt part of the genocide movement’s traditional leaders into the negotiations with Germany.
Talks of a ‘Berlin u-turn’ have been rife during the festive season, though lacking in detail. The grapevine has it that there is a “missing link” in the ongoing negotiations between the two governments on the issue of genocide and reparations.
Officialdom is strongly touted to have bought into the so-called “missing link” whatever, whoever and whichever it is be co-opted into the grand scheme of ongoing negotiations. This is reportedly necessitated by the fact that the affected communities who are currently a part of the grand scheme, have proven inconsequential in rendering the farcical talk shop much-needed credibility and legitimacy.
Thus some pertinent questions now arise. Which element (s) of this camp is/are likely to cow in and is this for personal parochial interest or is this in the best broader interest of the reparation movement and the affected communities? Does the “missing link” pertain to and represent the broader reparation movement that hitherto has been suspicious of the two governments’ motives regarding the ongoing negotiations or does it entail a section thereof reminiscent of the Machiavellian divide and rule tactics of most colonial governments?
Is the “missing link” joining the ongoing process or does it mean the nullification of whatever has been done this far? If the latter, then how is the next structure onward panning out, who are the main players or is this just a replication of the so-called “missing link” and the two governments?
If not a replication, how materially and substantively would the engagements including the “missing link” this time around be from the ongoing negotiations? Does it mean the rejection of the ongoing negotiations has been based on mere jealously and exclusion of the “missing link” and not as a matter of uncompromised principles? Most instructive of the demand of the affected communities has been direct negotiations as direct victims with the government of Berlin as successor to the aggressor and/or perpetrator of the crime of genocide against them.
In the absence of such show of commitment and transparency there is no reason to believe that its rumoured u-turn is no more than a farce. There is further no reason to believe how any engagement being mooted and envisaged may materially and substantially be different from the ongoing negotiations that have been proven a nullity.
Not to mention the exclusion of an equally pivotal section of the affected communities in the Diaspora, especially in Botswana and South Africa, and their governments who must be equal participants in the matter.