Genocide: Govt concedes N$18.6b not enough
07 June 2021 | Local News
Even though the N$18.4 billion genocide reparation package from Germany is not sufficient, it must be seen as giving Namibia a “foot in the door” to build better bilateral relations in future, government says.
According to Bank of Namibia (BoN) deputy governor Ebson Uanguta, who served on the negotiating team, Namibia will be able to return to Germany should it find that the money is just a ‘drop in the ocean’.
“All of us are not happy; this is not enough. But we have a foot in the door now and better bilateral agreements. After every implementation, there will be an assessment. Now we have agreed that we want to improve the livelihood of these people, and after 10 years, you realise this money was just a drop in the ocean because the needs are so vast, then we can go back,” he said.
Uanguta added that the joint declaration must speak to these assessments.
Another negotiator Phaneul Kapaama emphasised on Friday that the negotiation was a process of ‘give and take’.
He added that justice is fought for and not a given and that the battle for true reparations for the Nama and Ovaherero genocide will continue.
During his presentation on Friday, vice president Nangolo Mbumba said the Namibian negotiating team faced heavy resistance from Germany to accept their “non-negotiable position” that the mass killing of the Ovaherero and Nama communities - including forceful seizure of their land, property and cultural artifacts - was genocide.
“We need to recognise that the amount agreed upon between the two governments is not enough and does not adequately address the initial quantum of reparations initially submitted to the German government.
He said despite the amount not being sufficient, government is confident that there will be an opportunity to revisit and renegotiate.
Not on the same page
Meanwhile, Jürgen Zimmerer, a German professor of global history, said that government and - also largely the German public - regards this chapter as closed.
“The German government insists anyway that there is no legal duty to pay any money, but only a moral one. What would be the rationale, from a German perspective, to change its position only a few days after the agreement was announced? Political closure is what the German government was seeking all along.
“Namibians should know that they are settling the genocide question in all likelihood now for good. Once the agreement is signed and the apology has been delivered, I don't see Germany reopening that case,” he said.
Ruprect Polenz, the German special envoy on genocide, said yesterday the negotiations are over and that the Namibian Parliament will deal with the result.
"The same applies to the German Bundestag. It is planned that foreign minister Heiko Maas will sign the joint declaration in Windhoek together with his Namibian counterpart, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah. Federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier could then travel to Namibia to apologise in a suitable setting," he said in an opinion piece posted on Twitter.
“Then the further implementation of the joint declaration can begin. The declaration does not draw a line, on the contrary. It points to the future. The result of the negotiations should be the basis for social reconciliation processes that we hope for. There is no right to reconciliation,” he said.