Reparations must go to descendants - Swartbooi

LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi says the Nama and Ovaherero communities must be allowed to manage the funds themselves with the assistance of their own experts.

14 August 2020 | Politics



The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) says reparations paid by Germany for the Nama and Ovaherero genocide must go directly to descendants of the victims and not into state coffers.

This follows the Namibian government’s rejection of the German government offer of reparations to atone for the 1904-08 genocide.

At the same time the presidency announced that development projects under the National Planning Commission (NPC) will be identified and implemented in the seven regions largely occupied by the Nama and Ovaherero.

LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi yesterday said these communities must be allowed to manage the funds themselves with the assistance of their own experts.

“We therefore do not accept the continuation of the special initiative as quasi-reparations. Our communities have said this before and we are reiterating their stance. The German government should stop sending us expatriates, because it shows their lack of trust and confidence in our skills unless it is a scheme to redirect the money back to the German community,” said Swartbooi.

Swartbooi added that the negotiations between the two governments must include people in the diaspora, especially those in Botswana and South Africa.

“The Namibian government must consult with the affected communities before making any decisions on the negotiations,” he said.

‘Diplomacy and morality’

One of the representatives on the government’s negotiating team for reparations said their talks were based on political diplomacy and morality, which is why Germany won’t budge to the term reparations.

Ueriuka Festus Tjikuua, who represents the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Council for Dialogue on the 1904-1908 Genocide, yesterday said Germany had promised to apologise to the Nama and Ovaherero communities.

“We did not take the legal implications of that word (reparations) into account because it has a legal connotation. It is a court order, so we can use it socially but in its real sense it must come from a court order. Germany is not refusing reparations because they are refusing the genocide. They are saying we are not in a court, but if you want to go to court you can,” he said.

According to him, it would be tricky for Namibia because Germany’s position is that there is no way Namibia can drag it to court because there was no international convention in existence during the 1904-08 genocide.

He added that Germany said it had committed a genocide and was willing to pay reparations.

“We then said to Germany that we are not going to court, we are negotiating on the political and moral grounds so we will not talk about legal terms here. So we said we are in agreement, if Germany is not willing to use the word reparation, we will clamour it,” he said.

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