Windhoek – The Namibian government does not have the legitimacy to represent the Nama and Ovaherero in the genocide case, says Veraa Katuuo, a U.S.-based genocide activist.
“Namibia is in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People which stipulate that indigenous people have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves,” he said in an interview last week.
Katuuo is one of the plaintiffs in the federal class lawsuit lodged in a U.S. court against the German government for reparations over the Ovaherero and Nama genocide of 1904-1908.
The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and a court order enjoining Germany from excluding them from participating in the current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments.
Asked why they are only interdicting the German government in the case, Katuuo said they are doing this because it was the Germans that called for the killing of the Nama and Ovaherero people that left an estimated 65,000 Ovaherero and 10,000 Nama dead, and not the Namibian government.
Katuuo is the founder of the Association of the Ovaherero Genocide (AOG) in the US (AOG), which aims at advocating the Ovaherero demands for apology and reparations from the Federal Republic of Germany for the genocide committed against Namibian people.
He said after numerous unsuccessful attempts to engage the German government on the issue of apology and reparations for the genocide, they decided to file a complaint in the US court.
“Government has lost the credibility to represent those in Namibia by ignoring the guidelines set forth in the adopted genocide reparation motion of 2006, which calls for the Namibian government to be the facilitator of the negotiations between the Nama and Ovaherero against the German government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Namibian government has repeatedly re-emphasised its commitment to the negotiations for genocide reparations from Germany.
In this regard, for the 2016/2017 financial year the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation allocated N$10 million of its N$900 million budget towards ongoing talks with the German government on reparations for the 1904-1908 genocide.
In 2015, the two governments appointed special envoys to lead the genocide negotiations. President Geingob appointed Dr Zed Ngavirue as government’s special envoy to lead deliberations with his German counterpart Ruprecht Polenz.
Furthermore, government also established a political committee chaired by Vice-President Nicky Iyambo, deputised by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
The office of Iyambo is tasked with dealing with the genocide reparation demands.
There has been mixed reaction among the affected communities with some saying ‘there can be nothing about us without us’ and others applauding government for creating ‘appropriate structures’ to spearhead the negotiations with Germany.