Botswana will not intervene in genocide talks

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
Windhoek

Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Claurinah Modise has ruled out her government’s intervention in the genocide negotiations currently underway between the Namibian and German governments.

This is despite a number of Ovaherero and Ovambanderu who fled from the war of extermination perpetrated against them by the Germans in 1904/1905 residing in that country, where they fled to after the genocide.

“I want to make it clear that the government of Botswana views the on-going negotiations to be a matter between the German and Namibian government,” Modise said, and added the two entities could make an informed determination of who should form part of the deletion to the negotiations.

Modise says Botswana considers the genocide issue as a domestic matter best left to the nationals of Namibia and Germany.

She said she has followed reports and debates around the possible payment of reparations to the descendants of victims of the genocide.

“I can attest to the fact that it is a very emotive issue and I can also confirm that the leadership in this country is committed to finding an amicable solution to the issue,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ovaherero and Nama traditional leaders and Ovaherero/Nama genocide committee members who claimed to have been excluded from the genocide talks currently underway between the two governments recently met President Hage Geingob at State House to map out the way forward.

Briefing the media after the closed door meeting with Geingob, Chief of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority Vekuii Rukoro described the meeting with Geingob on genocide as positive.

He said they made certain proposals to Geingob on how to iron out the clash of perspectives on the genocide negotiations.

He was glad to say that the overwhelming majority of proposals they put forward constituted a sound basis for bridging the disagreement between them and the government.

“The gap between us and the government has been narrowed,” he said.
He added that another meeting would follow next week and then it would be up to Geingob to announce the outcome.

The purpose of the meeting was to try and bridge the gap separating the genocide victims group on the one side, and the government on the other, regarding the approach to the genocide discussions with the German government, but he was optimistic of a positive outcome.

Up to 100 000 Hereros and Namas are believed to have been killed by German Imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South West Africa.

Successive German governments have refused to accept the atrocities as genocide. The present government only agreed to the description genocide in 2015, reversing its earlier position.

The dialogue between Germany and Namibia includes discussions about an official apology for the genocide.
However, Germany’s Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga, has publicly ruled out paying reparations directly to members of the Ovaherero and Nama ethnic groups.

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