Genocide talks start in Germany

The two governments have already agreed on a team of special envoys to spearhead the dialogue.

06 September 2016 | Local News

Negotiations on genocide reparations will start in Berlin on Friday.
Namibian special envoy Zed Ngavirue and his delegation, including the chiefs of communities affected by the 1904-1908 colonial atrocities, left for Germany at the weekend.
“We as a nation rise to the challenge and in sending the Namibian delegation to Berlin we act as an independent, proud and free people,” Vice-President Nickey Iyambo said at a media conference announcing the formal start of the genocide talks.
Iyambo said the Namibian negotiating position was the culmination of seven months of intensive work by the technical team consisting of historians, legal and economic experts, Namibian diplomats and members of the affected communities.
He added that in terms of international law, these negotiations can only take place between sovereign states.
Nama pressure groups are not impressed with the talks, as they feel left out.
The chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee, Ida Hoffman, is adamant that the German government has the responsibility to talk with the descendants of the genocide victims.
Iyambo requested that only one person from the Nama group should be included in the government’s technical committee which accompanied Ngavirue.
According to Hofmann the Nama technical committee led by her and Chief Dawid Fredericks of Bethanie and the OvaHerero genocide technical committee led by Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro are not recognised.
“The government is treating us as second-class Namibians. The government do not recognise the parliament resolution of 2006. The resolution stated that Namas and Hereros must meet with Germany for apology and reparation talks and that the Namibian government must facilitate the process, not take over the talks,” Hoffman maintained.
She said the initial letter requesting talks with the German government was signed by her and the late Herero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako. They submitted the request to the then Prime Minister Nahas Angula for discussion by the cabinet.
“Today they are leaving out the actual movers of the parliament resolution and this not good,” she said.
She further blamed the government of rolling out the red carpet for some groups claiming to be affected by colonial Germany’s extermination order.
“We are not saying they were not affected by the war but when it comes to the extermination order they were not affected,” she argued.
She claimed that the Namas and OvaHerero did not benefit from German development aid to Namibia.
According to her the 127 million euros that Namibia received from Germany in 2011 went to the people of northern Namibia.
Paul Thomas, secretary to the Nama technical committee, charged that the government was dividing the Nama clans.
He claimed that the Nama representatives in the government delegation do not have the mandate to talk on behalf of the entire Nama tribe.
“The message should be very clear that both the Nama Technical Committee and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association distance themselves from the delegation to Germany who will be negotiating for reparations on behalf of the Nama,” Thomas said.


FRED GOEIEMAN