Is this the beginning of the beginning; beginning of the end; end of the beginning or end of the end?
One cannot but pose and ponder this question with regard to Genocide, Apology and Reparations with a particular focus on the current debate in the National Assembly on the Joint Declaration between the Namibian government and its German counterpart.
Because since the ongoing debate on this vexed question, it has never been clear which way the debate is ultimately headed, and where and how the debate, and the whole question of GAR may be concluded eventually in the best wishes and interests of the affected communities.
Is it back to the drawing table and under what circumstances and with what players and/or stakeholders. If back to the drawing table what actually does this mean and what about the gains/foundation, and/or if you wish the lessons from close to six years during which Namibia and Germany presumably have been engaged in intense negotiations. While at the same time some section of the affected communities have been engaging the US courts. All efforts which ultimately seem to have ended in futility, depending of course on one’s vantage position and perspective.
Since news of a deal between Namibia and Germany regarding GAR this May filtered out onto the public domain, to the disappointment and against best wishes unexpectedly of a section of affected communities, the matter has been hotly debated, if not contested, between a majority of the affected communities, especially those who all along have not been party to the negotiations on the one hand, and the Government, purporting to have been negotiating on behalf of the affected communities, and another section of the affected communities.
With a section of the affected communities, which has not been party to the negotiations, and also some who have been part, rejecting the deal in toto and partially severally and separately. While on its side the Government and its technocrats on the technical committee, and a section of the affected communities, would by any means necessary not allow their work of six years, now evidenced by the Joint Declaration, reduced to zero. A section of the affected communities has been insisting on going back to the drawing board and starting the negotiations afresh.
This is the Russian roulette that GAR has been subjected to lately with little indication where it is headed to, and where it may eventually, after the stormy National Assembly debate on the Joint Declaration, be parked, perhaps for an indefinite time, if not left to the next Namibian government after the Dr Hage Geingob era. More so given the shifting political landscape in the Federal Republic of Germany following the September elections in that country.
The Joint Declaration, and its imminent signing, sealing and delivering by Namibia and Germany, does not only seem to have reawakened the affected communities to their natural mission of the redemption and expiation of the blood of their ancestors. But has equally induced them into top gear in the agitation for reparations, an eventuality rarely seen in most recent years. As much the matter has lately been of renewed and reignited keen media interest regional, continental and internationally.
On the home soil in its perceived attempt to sway opinion in favour of the Joint Declaration, and especially its smooth sailing in the National Assembly, Swapo Party of Namibia parliamentarians have been crisscrossing and shuttlinng the country and been vying to grace every publ;ic platform available to make their case for the embrace of the Joint Declaration heard.
In their turn the affected communities and their leaders seem equally not to have been sparring any effort to dissuade the Government from steamrolling the Joint Declaration through in the National Assembly, which has been seen as the first necessary step towards legitimising the eventual singing of the deal by the Government. Thus some traditional leaders in this regard approached fellow traditional leaders in the North, appealing and pleading for their due influence in prevailing upon parliamentarians, and the Government, in not pushing through with the deal against their and communities’ best wishes.
This led to the latest meeting of these leaders with the Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba, on October 3. Emerging from this meeting with an assurance that the current debate in the National Assembly, if anything, is nothing more than just a parliamentary practice, convention and tradition. Is this perceived assurance by the VP anything to take serious by or mere empty political talk just to buy time if not for now lure these leaders into a false sense of expectation, if not lull them into complacency while the Joint Declaration would be sailing through the NA and signed, sealed and delivered sooner than later? Only time will tell when the pendulum eventually swings the way it may eventually swing.
But following the latest shuttle diplomacy by the leaders of the affected communities, and with the help of their traditional brethren and sister in the North, the Namibian government, the conventional believe of its insensitivity towards the people notwithstanding, may eventually be proven that after all it is not as insensitive as it has been perceived to be all along but a caring and listening Government. True to its own dictum: “We have heard you”.
But be that the case that the Government is eventually listening to the leaders of the affected communities, this begs the question if this is the beginning of the beginning; beginning of the end; end of the beginning or end of the end?