President Hage Geingob yesterday said the government, as an elected representative of all Namibians, will remain in charge of genocide negotiations with Germany until the matter comes to its logical conclusion.
He made the remarks during question time after he had just finished delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday in the National Assembly.
Geingob was also asked to confirm reports suggesting that a settlement has been reached with Germany to pay reparations worth N$400 billion. The president said he doubted if any cash reparations would be paid by Germany, although he said there could be a small baseline fee. Geingob did not say what form any reparations would be in.
NUDO and Swanu MPs Asser Mbai and Usutuaije Maamberua, respectively, questioned the president on genocide reparations, as well as the perceived exclusion of key people from affected communities.
In response, Geingob said the government has always taken the genocide issue seriously, demonstrated by various interventions over the years.
“It (genocide issue) was almost dead, but we revived it and set up a Cabinet committee,” the president said.
“I asked people to define the terms such as genocide. We then said any apology must be in a shape that satisfies us. We had to define that too. Reparation, in what shape should it be? Cash or what? And who should receive it?”
Geingob said the current infighting among Namibian communities over reparations works in favour of Germany that would naturally be happy with any delay in the process.
“The Germans are happy that we are fighting among ourselves.”
“I got a plethora of letters dismissing the committees and so forth. The Germans then came to say they wanted to address the issue. Special envoys were appointed. As president, I have a prerogative of appointing someone, not on a tribal basis. We appointed Dr Zed Ngavirue, a respected man,” he explained.
He said he and the ruling party Swapo have been elected to represent all Namibians, irrespective of their colour or ethnic identities.
“We live in a representative democracy where elected people have to represent the greater majority. Swapo is elected by 80 percent of Namibians to represent them. We are engaging Germany as representatives of the Namibian people.”
Geingob said he is willing to meet leaders of affected communities, including those demanding that the government step aside from the matter and let communities – led by their traditional leaders – deal with the Germans.
Germany has on numerous occasions stated that they would not engage tribal groupings but only representatives of the Namibian government.
The clash of perspectives on the matter last year put President Geingob and Ovaherero Chief Vekuii Rukoro on a collision course, with unkind words exchanged.
“I later received letters from lawyers in London accusing us of being an Owambo government. I told Rukoro to withdraw that first before he and I can meet and talk.
Ngavirue will be our leader on this. Why would I condone genocide and why? I’ve no reason to,” the president told parliament.