From the recent briefing to the National Assembly by Prime Minister, Saara Kuugogenlwa-Amadhila, on 16 March on the progress or lack thereof, of the genocide negotiations, it is emerging crystal clear that after all, as many critics may have predicted and suspected, it has been a futile exercise. Only for the Head of State to put the nail in the coffin thereafter announcing that the Genocide and Reparations negotiations have deadlocked.
Hence the relegation of the negotiations for Reparations to negotiations for projects. Worse within the frameworks of the country’s National Development Plans (NDPs) and Vision 2030. Not surprising but conveniently for the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, that from the word go has been categorical about a Reconciliation Fund. Surely backed and supported by some influential forces in Namibia, notably the orthodox interdenominational community fronted by
Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Namibia – DELK and the Namibian-German civil society.
The idea of the Reconciliation Fund was germinated in and around the centenary commemoration in 2004 of the Genocide. Soon the Special Initiative was thrust upon the affected communities by then German Minister of International Development and Cooperation, Heide-Marie Wieczorek-Zeul, who attended the centenary commemoration. But the backing and support of a section of the affected communities, who have been part of the negotiations between the two countries, is an open secret, thus giving the two governments’ bilateralisation of the genocide issue some measure of legitimacy.
But could the projects ever have been envisaged by the affected communities? Having been closely part of the Reparations campaign from the beginning, I cannot remember a point where projects were ever considered as a tradeoff, let alone a last resort. Simply there’s just no price tag on the lives of thousands ancestors brutally slaughtered by Imperial Capitalist Germany.
More than anything else, the call to successive governments to Imperial Germany to account, has, first and foremost, been for acknowledgement that indeed there was Genocide committed against the Ovambanderu, Ovaherero and Nama.
With any such acknowledgement from Germany, Genocide being a crime against humanity as per the United Nations 1948 International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, this is, cannot and shall never ever be just a matter of bilateralism between the Namibian, and German government.
In fact from the word go it is and has been a travesty of justice by, and for the two governments to arrogantly and disrespectfully as they have been doing, reduce the matter to a bilateral issue. Presumably now just a matter for state actors for the two governments. Preempting, avoiding and ducking international legal instruments that should properly have dealt with this crime against humanity.
The Namibian government, and its German counterpart, seem to have taken this easy road for their own mutual beneficial parochial States’ interests, with little regard, if any, for the interests of the affected communities in Namibia. Just as much as the projects envisaged have ultimately little to do with the immediate and direct interests of the would-be beneficiaries, the affected communities.
Just like the Namibian independence has been usurped by presumed nationalists and patriots in the interest of Capitalism, with the mass of the exploited Namibian workers and peasants, yet to enjoy the fruits of independence, under the envisaged projects few of the descendants of the direct victims of Genocide would stand to benefit directly from these envisaged projects. The intent and effect of which would be to jump-start the ailing Namibian capitalist economy, with only a trickle down effect, if any, on the affected communities.
The initial idea of reminding Germany of its abominable colonial past in Namibia, may have may have been forthright, genuine and honourable. But on the long haul, which seems no nearer to any end soon, the whiff of money set in and opportunism is now ruling supreme. A stage has been reached where both state actors, and some of the traditional players from the affected communities, are no longer as genuine and honourable in and with what are essentially and integrally not their own demands, but that of the affected communities.
Genocide has left deep scars in the physical and psychic being of the descendants of the victims, which are still discernible though not visible. Granted that reparations is a natural byproduct of Germany’s acknowledgement of Genocide, because of the infectious opportunism that has infiltrated the Genocide movement, coupled with the internecine bickering and rivalry, the various leaders can no longer be trusted with this vexed matter. The lessons of freedom and independence, in which the presumed liberators, nationalists and patriots, to their credit played an instrumental role, are instructive. A liberation usurped for self-enrichment and aggrandizement.
Truth must be told and heard. Few if any who have been at the forefront of the Genocide and Reparation movement, can speak of any blueprint for the post-reparations reconstruction and development of the affected communities. Should any such blueprint be in place, it has been a closely guided secrecy by the presumed owners and authors thereof. Unknown to the affected communities themselves, its would-be actual owners and presumed beneficiaries. If there’s so much secrecy and mystery surrounding any such blueprint, one cannot but dread the secrecy surrounding the reparations trust fund, should any be realised. If this is what is in store for the affected communities, one cannot but fear the worse for Reparations. Through whatever channel, be it through the Namibian government or the self-styled, -anointed, -designated and self-appointed traditional champions of Genocide and Reparations. The only route is any other credible channel, which currently is non-existent. But with the negotiations having hit a snag, an
d the class case seeming to reach no last round, this is a time for a serious remobilisation by the affected communities to have the campaign driven by those with not only fresh and revolutionary ideas, but with genuine serious intent and purpose devoid from their own egos and coupled with intelligentsia.