Ex-bank CEO says genocide deal equates lives to Neckartal dam

02 June 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Former Standard Bank Namibia CEO Vetumbuavi Mungunda says the present value of the settlement deal reached with Germany over genocide averages N$7 billion, comparing this to the cost of Neckartal dam.

“I just can’t believe how anyone could have arrived at such a meagre amount, which when presently valued is actually about N$6 billion to N$8 billion, the costs of one Neckartal dam for the over 85 000 lives lost and over 15 million hectares of land taken away,” he lashed out.

“Either the colleagues who are putting this agreement for consideration cannot think in trillions, which is the actual cost of the damage, given that our gross domestic product and annual budgets are still in billion, or there is serious lack of commitment to a just and fair reparation settlement.”

The two governments reached consensus on N$18 billion, to be paid in portions over 30 years. This has infuriated many from the Ovaherero and Nama communities, who are demanding at least N$8 trillion in reparations.

Mungunda called on Germany to follow past precedence in dealing with the issue.

He pointed out that 70 years ago, Germany paid US$822 million to the Holocaust survivors in 1952, at that time the equivalent of N$12.3 trillion.

According to him, in today’s value, that settlement would be in the range of N$506 trillion, assuming a discount rate of 10% over the last 70 years.

“We can learn from the mechanics of how their calculations were derived. Some of the questions arising is whether the payment should be based on the number of lives lost or the lives lost projected as of today.”

Population growth

“Although 85 000 lives were lost in 1904, assuming population growth over the last 120 years for example using an annual population growth of 3%, the projected lives lost in today’s terms is actually 2 950 434. I suggest that the premise and stance of our negotiations should be clear that the quantum would increase every year until Germany settles this reparation demand once and for all,” he said.

Mungunda added that the loss of land alone would be more than N$1.5 trillion, assuming 15 million hectares was grabbed following the genocide, and at a low value of N$1 000 per hectare.

“In terms of livelihoods, there are estimates of the livestock owned by the Ovaherero and Namas before the genocide - we can use that as basis at today’s value per head. We know the trauma suffered, and we need to quantify the costs of remedial actions and programmes necessary to ‘reparate’ and ‘restore’ the dignity of the communities suffered.”

Racism

Social scientist Sima Luipert echoed these sentiments, adding: “The German-Jewish reconciliation is a story of hope, progress, and mutual faith, because the Germans and Jews negotiated as equals.

“The logic of the German government, claiming that they can only speak to the state, creates questions about why they were ready to speak to 23 different Jewish communities, yet not to African communities. That’s racism in every sense of the word and any form of diplomatic jargon is superficial,” she said.

Sima, who is also a grandchild of a genocide victim, said true reconciliation can only be reached once Namibians are seen as human beings and not objectified.

“Denying the victim communities their rightful place at the negotiating table is a continuation of the objectification which eventually culminated in a horrific genocide.”

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