Call off genocide talks, says KK

05 October 2016 | Politics

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Former Swapo Member of Parliament Kazenambo Kazenambo says the genocide negotiations “in their current form” between the Namibian and German governments should be “temporarily” called off so that a best approach can be agreed upon by state and non-state parties.

The OvaHerero and Nama groups are incensed at their exclusion from the talks, which the Namibian government insists should be restricted to bilateral discussions between the two governments.

“The current approach seems to be taking us nowhere in seeking resolution on the matter,” said Kazenambo, who is a descendant of the victims of the 1904-1908 genocide.

He added: “The descendants of the Nama and OvaHerero victims of genocide are not flies or historical material artefacts to be researched by a team of government-appointed researchers but we are human beings capable of narrating our tragic historical misfortune.

“We are global citizens with fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Namibian Constitution and covered in the United Nations Convention on Genocide and other international legal principles and norms.”

He said not only do the descendants of the genocide victims have a right to their ancestral land lost during the colonial and apartheid eras should they so demand, but they also have a right to represent themselves at the genocide talks.

Kazenambo recommended that the Namibian government refer the genocide matter back to parliament so that its relevant bi-partisan committees can conduct public hearings with the descendants of the affected communities regarding a common position.

The executive arm of the Namibian government can then send the findings of such public hearings to the German government.

Kazenambo said the Nama and OvaHerero genocide, like many other genocide cases in the global political arena, is not the exclusive domain of state actors, as the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation claims.

He said the Nama and OvaHerero as the “core injured parties” should not just be co-opted into the Namibian government’s technical subcommittees, but should be the main stakeholders in the genocide negotiations.

The ministry stated in a recent press release that “some affected communities have refused to join the government’s negotiation efforts for they seek to negotiate directly with the German government.”

This ministerial statement continued: “This undermines the legitimacy of government and it is contrary to the principle of international law where only state actors have the jurisdiction to negotiate with other states.”

Kazenambo strongly disagrees, saying the author of the press statement deliberately distorted the facts.

In fact, he said, case studies of other genocide negotiations demonstrate that non-state actors such as the victims of the Holocaust were directly represented by the Jewish World Federation (a non-state actor) together with the Israeli government (a state actor).

“State actors are not the sole negotiators on issues of genocide as the affected communities are equal active shareholders in the genocide negotiating process,” Kazenambo said.

WHO IS IN CHARGE HERE?

Kazenambo said contradictory messages are coming from the Namibian government regarding the genocide talks.

On the one hand, when Vice-President Nickey Iyambo said that negotiations were to start, a government team was already preparing to leave for Germany the following day.

This followed a statement by the Namibian envoy, Dr Zed Ngavirue, who said the Namibian government had already submitted a document, which would pave the way forward concerning the genocide talks.

Ngavirue did not divulge the contents of the document, saying that he first needed to submit it to President Hage Geingob.

The ministry’s statement followed thereafter.

This prompted Kazenambo to ask: “Now what is what and who is really in charge of this negotiation to be listened to? Is it Dr Iyambo, Dr Ngavirue, or some nameless ghost officials from the ministry?”

Kazenambo wanted to know if the affected communities were privy to the contents of the documents submitted to Germany and why the Namibian government failed to have meetings with the affected communities.

He asked who had formulated Namibia’s position and which communities had been consulted on it.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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