Genocide and apartheid still pose a risk to restorative justice

Stefanus Nashama

Panduleni Itula, the Leader of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), says the genocide of both the Ovaherero and Nama people and the torturous years of apartheid are foundational pains that still reverberate in Namibian society.

Itula yesterday said that the comparison of this foundational trauma risks undermining the quest for restorative justice for both.

According to Itula, the evils of genocide and apartheid each scarred the national psyche in unique ways.

He added that the comparison sets the stage for structural inequalities the country still grapples with.

Itula echoed the sentiments of McHenry Venaani, the leader of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) about the recent remarks of President Hage Geingob when he compared the severity of human rights abuses during the apartheid era to the genocide of 1904 when Germany occupied Namibia.

Itula said only in unity can Namibia heal and build a just country for all.

Geingob made the comments last week at a public lecture at the Paris Institute of Political Studies in France.

During the lecture, Geingob stated that the cruelties of the apartheid era by the South African regime surpassed the severity of the genocide enacted by Germany against the Nama and Ovaherero people.

Geingob further said some individuals, who collaborated with the South African regime during the apartheid era, are now prominent voices demanding reparations for the genocide.

Itula, however, differed with Geingob’s comments, asserting that Namibia finds itself at a crossroads where history’s echoes meet the urgency of now.

“To make such a comparison brings about division and criticism of what equally had harmed,” he said.

Itula encouraged the Namibian head of state to build unity and shared pursuit of justice and acknowledgement.

“Turn these haunting echoes of the past into rallying cries for a united front against ongoing injustices,” he urged.

While emphasizing the injustices, Itula stated that the genocide and apartheid comparison remarks by the President make no sense while authorities struggle to address several other challenges the country faces presently.

He reasoned that such comments only reopened old wounds which still reverberate with people.

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