Namibia has made a fool of itself - KK

10 November 2017 | Politics

Descendants of communities that were affected during the genocide of the Nama and OvaHerero will now be granted the opportunity to make their reparation demands at the negotiating table.

This is according to former cabinet member and Swapo politburo member Kazenambo Kazenambo, who spoke to Namibian Sun on the contents of both the German position paper on the genocide, and the Namibian government's response.

Kazenambo said Germany's official response to Namibia's demands was presented to the politburo and central committee about three months ago.

He said the German government stipulated three demands in its response to the Namibian government.

The first is that the genocide be referred to as 'atrocities'.

The second demand is to replace the word 'reparations' with 'special fund' and the third is to include the affected communities in the negotiations.

To date, only representatives selected by the government have been allowed to take part in the process.

“This is what we got… that the German government wants to directly engage the affected communities. And the Namibian government seem to have problems with this issue,” Kazenambo told Namibian Sun.

There have been repeated calls by representatives and chiefs of the Nama and OvaHerero communities to be included in the discussions surrounding the matter of the genocide and reparations but these have, to date, largely been ignored by the Namibian government.

The German position paper on the issue was presented to Namibia's special envoy Zed Ngavirue on 27 June this year by the German ambassador to Namibia, Christian-Matthias Schlaga.

Namibia presented its demands in July last year.

According to Kazenambo, Namibia's document is flawed with factual distortions, including that the genocide began at Namutoni in Etosha, a fact which he says ultimately makes Namibia's case “laughable”.

There was a large battle on 28 January 1905 between the Germans and the Aawambo led by Chief Nehale Mpingana who was notoriously opposed to any type of European settlements and also led several attacks against the Dorslandtrekkers during earlier years.

For the remainder of the Aawambo leaders, history records at that time, their tribal lands were not under German administration and they did not respond to Samuel Maharero's calls to assist them to fight the German presence in Namibia. Chief Nehale decimated the Germans at Namutoni.

According to Kazenambo, this is not the only inaccuracy in the Namibian response to the German authorities.

“In that document they are saying ordinary prisons such as the prisons in Karibib and Waterberg were concentration camps, which is nonsense. That is why we say they must talk to the right people, there are people who know the history,” Kazenambo said.

He added that Namibia has made a “fool” of itself in the eyes of the German people.

“The Germans are the ones that were manning these concentration camps; they know where the camps were. If you go to them today and say 'Waterberg was a concentration camp', do you think they will believe that?” he questioned.

He also accused government leaders of using the genocide issue to milk state coffers.

“Why are they bringing in United Kingdom-based lawyers instead of using our local liberation lawyers such as Peter Koep and Hartmut Ruppel? Why are they no longer good enough? We also have Nama, OvaHerero and Damara lawyers, and our own human rights lawyers,” Kazenambo argued.

The government paid N$35.5 million to five UK-based lawyers to study Namibia's case.


Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila recently told parliament that Germany's position paper did not address specific details highlighted by the Namibian government.

Zed Ngavirue, the special envoy in the reparation negotiations, told Namibian Sun upon enquiry that neither the Namibian nor the German governments have been against the direct involvement of descendants.

He said he was not aware of any mention of Namutoni as the genesis of genocide.

“There must be some confusion. Are you sure you are not misquoting him? I have not seen any documents that say the genocide started at Namutoni,” he said.

Ngavirue would neither deny nor confirm whether Germany's demand to refer to the genocide as 'atrocities' or reparations as a 'special fund' was true.

He also said that the Namibian government had never discussed the negotiating process with Nama and OvaHerero descendants in the diaspora.

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