'Marshall Plan' irks Namas

02 May 2019 | Cultural

The Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) has condemned the Namibian ambassador to Germany who said he would support a 'Marshall Plan' in lieu of reparations for the Nama and Ovaherero genocide by imperial German forces.

The Marshall Plan, which was the official European Recovery Programme, was an American initiative passed in 1948 to aid Western Europe. The United States gave over US$12 billion (around US$100 billion in 2018) in economic assistance to help rebuild western European economies after the end of World War II.

During an interview, Hans Jessen, a freelance journalist in Germany, asked whether Guibeb would imagine a combination of an apology for the genocide and a German Marshall Plan for Namibia.

Guibeb responded: “Exactly. This could convince every person in Namibia and Germany that both nations have turned a page in the book of history. We cannot change the past. But as the living, we can provide a long-lasting just and peaceful future. I think that a German Marshall Plan for Namibia could lead to potential future lawsuits becoming obsolete.”

The interview was published by Der Deutsche Kulturrat, which is the German culture council.

The Nama community is not impressed by Guibeb's remarks and also questioned his authority, saying they do not understand how he features in the genocide negotiations.

In a statement released by Sima Luipert on behalf of Gaob Johannes Isaack, the NTLA strongly disagrees with the notion of a Marshall Plan saying it would not go directly to the affected communities.

“The Jews still pursued reparations despite the US Marshall Plan because it was within their legal and human rights to do so. The US Marshall Plan never targeted the Jewish victims of genocide per se. Therefore the US Marshall Plan never concluded the matter of the holocaust. Likewise, any plan which the two governments may have, will never conclude the matter of the Nama and Ovaherero genocide until they realise that they must return to the drawing board,” she said.

“It is therefore irresponsible for the ambassador to create the impression that a Marshall Plan-styled negotiation process will bring closure. It would seem the development projects hailed by the Namibian president and Mr Polenz have been given a fancy name to create the false illusion of legitimacy. It never will and the Nama leaders stand firm in their conviction that no one, including the ambassador to Germany has any legal right to make any deals without their involvement. This would be in violation of our legal right to speak for ourselves,” the statement said.

The Nama leadership also argued that Guibeb was irresponsible in making the remarks, and to create the impression that a Marshall Plan-styled negotiation process will bring closure.

JEMIMA BEUKES