It has been becoming crystal clear since the beginning of the debate for Genocide, Apology and Reparations (GAR) in the National Assembly for more than a month now, that this debate was, has never been and is not meant and nor bound to be head and ultimately culminate in a constructive progressive, if not radical consensual solution.
If anything while the debate should have crystalised and constellate into ideas towards the way forward, from the verbiages of many honourable members of this August House, this far, with a few exceptions, their contributions at best has been nothing less and but more than an entrenched empty rhetoric based on ill-hatched pseudo and farcical political positions if not blind tribal inclinations. If anything most of the MPs have shown themselves to urgently needing a beginners course in the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Genocide.
Their ignorance on the history of Genocide in Namibia notwithstanding and inexcusable, few of the honourable members in the August House would claim to have been speaking their minds, based on their consciousness, sensitivity and conscience as far as the issue of GAR is concerned. Because even few if any of the political parties represented in the National Assembly can really claim to have a clear policy position on GAR other than the whimsical misguided and ill- and misinformed pronouncements of leading individuals of these political formations.
Having emerged in less than two years from the Presidential and National Assembly elections, where GAR was never an election issue, and thus few if any of the political parties may ever have formulated a coherent policy position on this vexed matter. It is not difficult to see why not, simply because this issue has never been a national issue but an issue which has been relegated and shoved to the affected communities if these communities themselves have not shortsightedly kept it to themselves.
After all the affected communities are but a seeming minority of the ruling party elite, let alone of the voting fodders of the ruling party. This is despite the pretense by some in the ruling party this is a national issue, a position again motivated by these leaders own ulterior motives other than a genuine appreciation and empathy for the descendants of the victims of Genocide.
I dare challenge any of the political parties in the National Assembly who have been part of the debate so far on the Joint Declaration, which for all intents and purposes is not about Genocide, Apology and Reparations (GAR), but essentially about the continued bilateral relations between the Republic of Namibia and the Federal Republic of Germany, to show Yours Truly Ideologically their firm positions on GAR.
The bottom line and the truism as far as GAR is concerned, there is and has been lack of principled leadership on this important issue. From one continuum of the tribal/political spectrum to the other. Starting with the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), the prime mover of the motion, which led to the 2006 National Assembly Resolution which was adopted unanimously by the August House, and which purportedly is now the basis and foundation of the negotiations, which have been going on between the governments of Namibia and Germany.
More than anything, for Nudo, it has seem more a matter of clinging to its only would-be presentable political agenda issue, of undeniably its Ovaherero constituency, one of the communities historically affected most by the 1904-1908 Genocide, and other brutal colonial excesses of Imperial Germany, stressing effectively from 1884 with the Berlin Conference until the early 1900s with the end of German colonialism.
For the Swapo Party of Namibia, it has been an issue of political opportunism, which later transitioned into economic realism, if not equally economic opportunism. The early hesitancy, if not indifference and reluctance of the Swapo Party as far as the issue of GAR is concerned is well documented. And to a great extent is still manifest among leading members of the party. More than any position on Genocide being that of the party, it can hardly be said that the party has any position on Genocide other than sporadic and impulsive pronouncements of leading members of the party. If one has been closely following the current debate in the National Assembly, this is indeed the picture that has been emerging. The few veiled differences in the approach of the different Swapo MPs in the August House, can hardly be attributed to different levels of consciousness and conscientiousness, but indeed to a lack of a coherent common policy position of the Swapo Party on the matter.
Between what may be described as the two opposite spectrum of the political pendulum on Genocide, one finds different shades, which again are also defined by a an incoherent policy position on the matter, vacillating more than anything between mere political opportunism, and tribal allegiances, other than ideological and political conviction in restorative justice for the descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 Genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama.
Equally on the traditional leadership front, leadership lately as far as the Genocide and Reparations issue is concerned, has awfully essentially been missing, characterised predominantly by postures of sole and authentic ownership and representation of the issue by some traditional leaders, at the expense of others, which has led to schisms within the traditional leadership and thus tribal dogmatism among them and their communities, further polarisation and disunity.
One would have hoped the current debate in the National Assembly would help dissipate and distill the various schisms within the genocide and reparations movement and engineer a paradigm shift. This has been far from the case. On the contrary the schisms, especially the political ones, seem to have become more visibly and more polarised. The August House after all is not so august. Undoubtedly the rank and file of the affected communities, especially the youth, are called upon to own up to their historic mission. As they say each generation must define its own mission. It is time now that the now and future generations of the affected communities of Ovaherero, Ovam,banderu and Nama, stand up and define their own mission as far as the issue of Genocide, Apology and Reparations is concerned.