Genocide: Germany’s deafening silence continues

Jemima Beukes
The Namibian government has written to the German government to request an opportunity to renegotiate the N$18.6 billion joint declaration for genocide but Windhoek is yet to receive a response, vice-president Nangolo Mbumba said yesterday.The last known stance of the German government was that the matter is closed and finalised. The vice-president was speaking at the Chiefs Forum meeting, which was attended by traditional chiefs and senior councillors of affected communities of the 1904-1908 genocide in Windhoek.

Not without us

The Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) snubbed a “so-called feedback meeting” called by Mbumba, accusing the German and Namibian governments of ongoing “celebrations” of the crime of genocide committed against the Nama and Ovaherero peoples.

“Our understanding, which is shared in Namibia and by the international community, is that only the presidency of Namibia is still fighting for the resurrection of a known ‘dead horse’ called the joint declaration. OTA and NTLA therefore advise the presidency of Namibia to write off the sunk cost and to start Genocide, Apology and Reparations (GAR) negotiations together with the affected communities afresh – on a clean sheet,” NTLA and OTA said.

Germany won’t listen

Mbumba, meanwhile, said that they decided to use the word ‘joint declaration’ to satisfy the Germans, who wanted to hear nothing about using the term ‘genocide’.

“The challenges encountered during negotiations included Germany’s initial refusal to accept the 1904-1908 genocide; Germany’s refusal to pay appropriate reparations; and the division, lack of unity and understanding amongst the affected communities between those who wanted to pursue a legal option and those who support the government to pursue negotiations with the German government,” he said.

Unsigned

He also stressed that the joint declaration is not yet signed between the two governments, that nothing would be done in secret and that the Namibian government is committed to including everyone in the process.

“Following the discussions in the Namibian National Assembly, the technical committees of Namibia and Germany discussed the issues and proposed that an amendment be made to the joint declaration in the form of the addendum, which was submitted to the German government in July 2022. The Government of the Republic of Namibia is awaiting a response from Germany on these issues. No agreement has been signed with Germany yet,” he said.

It was genocide

However, Chief Manasse Zeraeua, of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority, said they have had several talks and nothing happened, and they expected to receive feedback from the government yesterday and not be summoned for input.

According to him, eight traditional authorities and other civil society organisations met in August this year to form the Chiefs Assembly.

Following consultations, they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which wholeheartedly rejected the joint declaration.

“The MoU also seeks a tripartite and direct negotiation on equal footing among the three parties: the German government, the Namibian government, and the representatives of the descendants. They are also seeking international solidarity for our demand for restorative justice,” he said.

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