Former diplomat to head genocide talks

05 November 2015 | History

The Namibian government has announced that former diplomat Zed Ngavirue is the country’s envoy who will pave the way for the long-awaited dialogue with Germany on genocide reparations. Ngavirue’s German counterpart will be Ruprecht Polenz, a long-serving chairperson of the German Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the two governments have agreed on a team of special envoys to spearhead the dialogue. Ngavirue was recently part of the Delimitation Commission that recommended the split of the Kavango Region and the creation of new constituencies. He is also a former head of the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (Nepru). “Over the last three years, a number of visits and discussions at high level on the way forward took place. Of recent, was the meeting I had with my German counterpart, Frank Walter Steinmeier, in New York,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah. “All these interactions have brought us to a point where we are now able to formalise and further intensify the dialogue.” She added that for some time now the government has been engaging Germany on the 1904-1908 genocide committed against mainly the OvaHerero and Nama communities. Nandi-Ndaitwah however reiterated an earlier position of the National Heritage Council of Namibia suggesting that Owambo, Damara and San people were also killed during that German-sanctioned genocide following an extermination order against OvaHerero and Nama people. This was after the repatriation last week of 35 skulls and three skeletons from Germany, which are said to include the remains of Damara, Owambo and San people. Yesterday, Nandi-Ndaitwah could not indicate when the last batch of human remains from Germany will be brought home. “The Namibian-German bilateral relationship is born out of a painful colonial past. “The atrocities committed in our country by Germany ... have left a deep scar on our national psyche,” she said. Nandi-Ndaitwah’s pointed out that in 1989, shortly before Namibia’s independence, the German parliament acknowledged a special moral and historic responsibility for its former colony. Recently the OvaHerero Genocide Committee (OGC) and the Nama Technical Committee on Genocide said the government was sidelining them from official talks on genocide reparations. ELVIS MURARANGANDA

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