Tujoromajo Kasuto and Andrew Kathindi
The Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, has declined an apology issued by Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas over the slaughter of over 60 000 Ovaherero and 10 000 Nama between 1904-1908. The apology was issued on Friday morning after the European nation officially recognized for the first time, the slaughter that was committed a hundred years ago as genocide. “If I was in my kraal, I would have said that its bullsh*t because the Germans do not want to recognise our genocide and what they did to our ancestors, “Rukoro told the Windhoek Observer.
He hit out at the German government offer of €1.1 billion (N$18 billion) over 30 years in developmental aid, “the amount is insulting but the people who came up with the amount, I understand they do not understand each other, they are not the rightful representatives of the affected communities.”
“Now they are saying they are giving this poor black people of Namibia, this naïve Nama’s and Herero’s, they are paying for them as they say it “reconciliation”, reconciliation with whom? For a €1.1 billion (N$18 billion).”
According to Rukoro the grouping does not recognise the genocide reparations deal negotiations as the descendent of the victims of genocide were excluded from the process and accused government of choosing representatives not elected by the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA).
“What government has done is recognised royal house chiefs who fall under the leadership of the Ovaherero leadership who are members of their political ideology so that they can force them to sign this thing as they select some licking their foots, now they are saying the affected communities have been represented at the table by Ngavirue, whom we don’t know. Who elected him?” he said.
Maas said in a statement, “Given Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness.”
The German government was however unwilling to term a deal struck with the Namibian government as reparations, rather calling it a gesture.
“As a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the victims’ descendants with a substantial programme to the tune of 1.1 billion Euro for reconstruction and development. The communities affected by the genocide will play a key role in shaping and implementing this programme. Legal claims for compensation cannot be derived from it,” Maas said.
Former South West Africa National Union (SWANU) President, Usutuaije Maamberua, in a petition submitted to the National Assembly on Friday over the outcome of the deal, argued that ,”neither recognition, apology nor reparations should be exclusive bilateral dialogue between the two governments of Namibia and Germany without the full and comprehensive inclusion of the Ovaherero and Nama communities.”
“Limiting the projects to be funded mostly to those already in the National Development Plan v Harambee is tantamount to funding the deficit of the Namibian government with the reparations funds. Doing so will illegitimately and illegally divert victims’ compensation,” he said.
Dr Zed Ngavirue, who led the delegation that negotiated the current deal, argued that the deal was valid as no one from the affected communities was excluded. “We know that those people who were not participating are the ones who wanted to be negotiating themselves. Those who were not part of it excluded themselves. No section of the descendants has been kept out,” he maintained.
Ngavirue further said that while the German government would not officially name the deal as reparations, it has been dealt with as such.
“We are dealing with reparations even if we are not dealing with the term. I have been working hard for five years on behalf of government and the affected people. We were able to achieve a reasonable deal, I submitted it to cabinet, and it is now up to government to evaluate and pronounce themselves.”