Reacting presumably to recent media reports the German ambassador to Namibia issued a media release on June 29 purporting to inform the Namibian public of the status of the negotiations on genocide and reparations with the Namibian government.
The German government responded to the Namibian government’s submission on the matter, about a year or so after, with its own “position paper”. But while the Namibian government – one hopes and trusts – must have been unambiguous and unequivocal that its “position paper” is about genocide and reparations, one is left unsure how to see and describe the German position paper.
In the paper, the ambassador speaks of “Namibian negotiations covering the events during the years 1904–1907 of German colonial era and the conclusions to be drawn”.
The reference by the German ambassador to what has generally been accepted as the first genocide of the 21st century as “events” is not really revealing of the position and attitude of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, because its position on genocide and reparations has all along been known.
The latest reference to “events” is thus only a reiteration and accentuation of the government’s long-held position.
It is an eye-opener of the two governments, who have apparently been engaged in negotiations for some time now, entailing – among others – defining some terms, least of them the term genocide itself, as per the two separate extermination orders against the Ovaherero issued on October 2, 1904 and on April 22, 1905 against the Nama, as genocide.
It is apparent that the German government sees the genocide of the Namibian people, no less and no more, than just the passing of historical epochs and/or “events”. This testifies to the usual intransigent position and attitude of the German government.
There is no way the affected communities can be inspired by the latest gimmick at transparency by the German ambassador, especially while the content of the “position paper” remains a top secret.
This more than confirms the circumspection and lack of confidence in the said negotiations process among the affected communities, as well as raising more doubts at which juncture they may be, which remains a matter for conjecture, and if they have even progressed – let alone whether they are on course.
The affected communities have time and again since the start of purported negotiations been categorical about the process being a non-starter until the German government comes to its full senses as to who the direct victims of genocide are, and thus who the people are with locus standi in this matter.
Thereby ultimately directly engaging them, but this has not been the case, and for how long only time will tell. But all the writings are day-by-day becoming visibly clear on the wall. For as long as they do not engage the affected communities directly, the matter of it owning up to its avowed historical responsibility shall never reach its logical conclusion.
The continued hardened and intransigent German position may also have been partly buoyed by recent talks of rapprochement between the Namibian government and the leadership of a section of the affected communities, with hopes that the affected communities would sooner, rather than later, join the negotiation table.
This is an illusion because the affected communities have never clamoured or yearned to join any negotiations on anybody’s terms. Two months down the line after these false hopes and illusions, there has been little movement towards this, surely much to the exasperation of the German government.
But the affected communities remain adamant that there would be nothing about them without them being involved, and that they cannot join negotiations to which they do not have knowledge of the content and principles, especially now that it is becoming clearer that the negotiations have been and are about “events” and not genocide.
As they say, whom the gods want to destroy, they first make crazy. Such craziness is already manifesting itself in the millions of Namibian dollars being squandered on foreign lawyers – apparently to boost the reparation cause.
But who is fooling whom? The sudden interest in the cause from some quarters, who have all along have been indifferent to the issue of genocide and reparations, and oblivious to its proponents, is that the money-greedy hounds have indeed got a whiff of possible reparations.
Yes, we have seen them queuing up for the reparation spoils all of a sudden – and that surely is a bad omen indeed for the cause of reparations.