Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

Concerns have been raised around the agreement reached between Namibia and Germany over the Nama and Ovaherero genocide reparations.

This is amid concerns the imminent deal was rushed and might not come out in the best interest of Namibia after almost six years of negotiations.

According to political analyst, Henning Melber, the announced agreement set to be signed in two weeks’ time, will be in the best interest of Germany, as it brings the negotiations to a close ahead of the country’s elections scheduled for September.

“This might not have been in the best strategic interest of the Namibian side, however, according to all expectations, there is a strong probability that the Green Party will play a significant political role in a new coalition government,” Melber said when asked whether it’s a rushed deal considering that elections in Germany are due in two months.

“This would actually provide more support for Namibia’s demands to come to terms with the colonial past. It could therefore have been an option to wait for the German elections, rather than being rushed into an agreement now. The negotiations would have by all means not come to an end with a new coalition government, but rather maybe even received new dynamics in a sense, which would have suited the Namibian side.”

“This is the result of bilateral negotiations between two governments, who on both sides had left out substantial parts of civil society in Namibia. Agencies of the descendants of the local communities most affected by the genocide were at best in a partial and limited way coopted, but major parts have remained outside, ” Melber said.s

“Their protest will not evaporate. In Germany, post-colonial initiatives advocating a more rigorous handling of the matter have also remained marginalised. But true reconciliation would be between the people of two countries, and cannot be reduced to two governments with limited representation and particular interests. They are setting and following an agenda, which is different from that of the groups excluded. Why then should these accept the results?”

“First of all, from all what we know, the agreement falls short of giving full recognition to the genocide committed. It rather is a lukewarm effort to water down the full consequences. In contrast, the genocide committed by the Osman Empire to the Armenians was fully recognised by the German Parliament and government though it happened only ten years later. It therefore is a double standard applied and shows the hypocrisy of the argument that the genocide convention adopted by the UN was much later.”

“This seeks (and manages) to avoid the full consequences in terms of reparations, without addressing both issues satisfactorily, the matter will not be brought to an end. There won’t be a general acceptance in Namibia, which is the main argument, as explained above, as long as relevant agencies have not been part of the agreement. And parts of German civil society will also remain critical and ask for more.”

Melber’s sentiments come as the Namibian government previously revealed that the talks (genocide negotiations) had to be concluded before the term of current German Chancellor Angela Merkel which ends on 26 September 2021. The much anticipated ending term of Merkel comes as she is expected not to run for office again after over 15 years of ruling. Merkel has been in the forefront of negotiation of the genocide and wants to conclude the deal before her term comes to an end.

Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Vekuii Rukoro, agreed with Melber’s sentiments that the deal had been rushed ahead of the German elections and was not in the best interest of the affected communities. “This is a rotten deal aimed at serving the interests of Germany in perpetuity and to prop up the finances of the Namibian Government which have been in a deplorable state for years now. The deal was rushed at break neck speed to improve the electoral fortunes of the ruling party in Germany, with the big lie that if it is not sealed now before the elections the right wing parties will win the election and they are against the Genocide negotiations! Fact of the matter is that the right wing doesn’t command that kind of support in Germany,” he said.

Rukoro said “the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) have repeatedly made it abundantly clear that we shall not accept any agreement emanating from discussions to which we have been deliberately excluded.”

“ Our court case against Germany in the US Supreme Court will proceed and in addition we shall escalate our political and diplomatic campaign against Germany and its political bedfellows.” “We totally reject the German arrogance of prescribing to us as the victim communities and even our government that the only form of compensation they will pay is in the form of so-called project financing. They cannot be the killers and also be judges who decide what kind of punishment or penalty they must get! Only puppets who are beholden to Germany’s cheque book diplomacy will agree to such a subservient arrangement.”

A source very close to the Paramount Chief who would like to remain anonymous, however, revealed to Windhoek Observer that the leaders of the affected communities had consulted individually by the Namibian technical committees dealing with the matter. “We feel that this deal has a lot of skepticism because the leaders were not consulted in groups as agreed upon. They were consulted individually with large figures.”

On the government’s comments, Press Secretary to the Presidency Afredo Hengari referred the Windhoek Observer to the negotiator of the deal Dr Zed Ngavirue, who in turn refused to comment.

According to Deutschlandfunk a German media report, the federal government is now ready to recognize the killing of tens of thousands of people in the ex-colony of German South West Africa as genocide from today’s perspective.

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