German government reveals Namibia determined with Joint Declaration

Staff Writer

IT is transpiring that a technical team of experts of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, which was in the country in March, and which met its Namibian counterpart, was here to work out the modalities of implementing the Joint Declaration (JD).

The behind the scenes manoevres by the government of Namibian and its German counterpart to go ahead with the implementation of the Joint Declaration has been revealed from answers which the German government has provided to questions termed as “minor” posed by German parliamentarian, Sevim Dagdelen and the parliamentary group of Die Linke, which is the Left Party in the German parliament, the Bundestag. The questions focus on the “German-Namibian relations and the so-called reconciliation agreement “ and the answers were provided on 30 August, 2022 . The questions were sent to the President of the German parliament, the Bundestag, Ms Barbel Bas, among others.

This March a delegation of German experts met a delegation of Namibian experts under the leadership of Tonata Itenge-Emvula, the Chairperson of Namibia’s Technical Committee on the negotiations between the two countries which has been spearheaded by the two countries’ respective envoys, the late Dr Zedekia Ngavirue for Namibia, and Ruprecth Polenz for Germany. The experts met at Midgard Country Lodge over what essentially has remained a secret engagement in terms of its purpose, content and outcome. Some members of the descendants who have been all along part of the government negotiating team, representing the affected communities, notably chiefs Manasse Zeraeua and Tjinaani Maharero, were this time around kept in the dark about the Midgard Country Lodge meeting. They are two of the chiefs who have expressed their reservations regarding the Joint Declaration.

“The Namibian government is sticking to the draft Joint Declaration even after controversial discussions in the Namibian National Assembly. It has announced that it will invite the government for talks on modalities for implementing the Joint Declaration.

A first meeting took place in Windhoek from March 8-12,2022,” reads a section of the written answers by the German government to the questions from the German parliamentarians.

To a question if the government has any knowledge regarding the ratification of the JD which was scheduled for 21 September, 2021, the answer by the German government is that the debate in the National Assembly “concluded without a vote on December 2,2021. A ratification was not on the agenda”. It affirms to a question on the status of the Joint Declaration in international law that it “it is not a treaty and does not require ratification by the Bundestag.” Further stating that it is “a political declaration of intent “ which was initialed by negotiators of both sides at the end of negotiation process “but has not yet been issued by the governments, as the Namibian side has not yet agreed to this declaration.” Adding that “to the knowledge of the Federal Government, Namibia’s commitment to the Joint Declaration does not require a consent law (ratification) is not required.”

Regarding the audience which some Namibian descendants, notably the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA), have sought with the German government, especially with Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, the German government reiterated its intransigent attitude not to deal with “tribes” now paraphrased into “individual groups” adamant that its negotiating partner in this matter remains the Namibian government.

Claiming that the OTA and NTLA did not avail themselves when offered the opportunity by the Namibian government to serve on the technical committee. Revelations of the entrenched position of the German government not to renegotiate the Joint Declaration come amidst renewed calls by the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu traditional leaders, among them, Maharero and Zeraeua, for a recalibration.

Which led to the Okandjoze Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which they announced last week. “It is our conviction that despite the efforts of our government, which we very much appreciate, it is ultimately our responsibility as the descendants of GENOCIDE victims, to take the demand emanating from our near annihilation, to its logical conclusion,” said chief Zeraeua reading a statement slast Wednesday when the chiefs announced the Okandjoze MOU at a media briefing in Windhoek.

In terms of the Okandjoze MOU, the traditional leaders commit themselves to a common front in their demand “for the acknowledgement and recognition of genocide, and to offer an apology and pay the reparations for the genocide committed against our ancestors, and subsequently to redress land dispossession, loss of lives, livestock, culture, dignity, cultural artefacts, and traumatic experiences,” among others.

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