Germany will pay in kind
08 July 2016 | International
German diplomats have poured cold water on ideas that lump sums would be paid out to the descendants of communities affected by the 1904-08 genocide.
The genocide against Namibians is considered as one of the first genocides of the 20th century. Affected communities and the German authorities are still battling to find common ground, despite the Namibian government appointing long-serving diplomat Zed Ngavirue as the special envoy to lead negotiations.
German ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga told journalists this week that no money would be channelled directly to the descendants of the genocide victims.
“There is this idea floating around that there will be money flowing across the continent, and we clearly say this will not happen,” he said.
“Of course projects cost money. Money is involved, but there will not be a transfer of a lump sum or anything.”
German special envoy Ruprecht Polenz, who visited Namibia this week, said the negotiations would be a political and a moral case that would take the genocide history into consideration.
According to him, all affected communities were presented a framework that would guide the negotiations. Although he insisted that this framework was confidential, Polenz pointed out that reparations might come in the form of development aid and might include an apology. “This includes projects, programmes and future-oriented ideas. We have made proposals already, but we want to keep it confidential until we have the results,” he said.
Polenz encouraged the Namibian government to speed up the negotiations. “If you want a result in 2017, we have to finish negotiations this year. Otherwise if you are not able to do it, it will be very difficult.
“We now have a window of opportunity, because this federal parliament is very much committed to the debate,” he said.
Polenz admitted that the affected communities he visited felt there was nobody to submit their ideas to.
“I recommended that they write a letter and present it to Zed Ngavirue as he is the special envoy and he is in charge of negotiations.
“It is not the German government that must make sure that every useful idea is incorporated into the negotiations. Of course I have got some ideas which he could use,” he said.
‘Led by the nose’
Chief Dawid Frederick of the !Aman clan who, along with OvaHerero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro, met Polenz on Wednesday, said the meeting was of no use to them.
Frederick said they would no longer “be led around by the nose”, and threatened to approach the International Criminal Court in The Hague if they did not get want they want.
He also criticised the fact that reparations might benefit all Namibians regardless of whether they were affected by the genocide.
“They are talking about a foundation, but refused to respond to our questions and concerns that some people were not affected, such as the Zambezi Region where people still have their land. Ours was torn up and given to the white people,” said Frederick.
According to him, they also told Polenz and his delegation that all the development aid given to Namibia by Germany went to the north of the country, while the southern parts of the country remained underdeveloped.
“They just told us that one state cannot interfere in the affairs of another state and that they cannot investigate what Namibia has done with the money Germany has given to the country,” he said.
According to Rukoro’s spokesperson, Bob Kandetu, nothing substantial came out of the meeting with Polenz and his delegation.
“The idea was to implore them to stop hiding behind the Namibian government.
“The chief shared with them that the two groups are envisioning taking Germany to court in New York. We have already signed the power of attorney. We encouraged them to come clean, but they take us for a joke,” said Kandetu.