CORRECTION: National Assembly split over genocide reparation

29 Mar 2016 21:10pm
CORRECTION: Replace ‘repatriation’ with ‘reparation’ all throughout story.

WINDHOEK, 29 MAR (NAMPA) - The National Assembly (NA) was Tuesday split in two as some Members of Parliament (MPs) could not reach consensus on whether direct descendants of the 1908 German genocide were represented in reparation negotiations between Namibia and Germany.
Members of the NA differed on views over the genocide reparation negotiations between Namibia and Germany, after the president of the DTA of Namibia, McHenry Venaani stated that people who were direct descendants or affected by the genocide were excluded from the negotiation process between the two countries.
Venaani also said he did not have a problem with the appointment of long-serving Ambassador Zed Ngavirue as the special envoy to lead deliberations with the German government, however, those affected by the genocide were not included nor represented in the negotiations.
He further sought clarity on why opposition parties were not included in the reparation negotiations.
“We should not water down this issue which many of us have spent many days of our youth working on,” Venaani said.
The official opposition leader also questioned whether it was wrong for Government to partner with affected communities and opposition parties.
A furious Utoni Nujoma, in the NA on a Swapo Party ticket, then spoke in defence of Ngavirue, saying the ambassador who was appointed as a special envoy, was also part of the affected communities and thus is directly representing Government and the affected communities.
The Land Reform Minister also said descendants of the genocide are not “State actors” and cannot act on behalf of State, thus negotiations had to be done by State through an appointed person who was affected by the genocide too.
Another Swapo Party MP Ida Hoffman, who also made her contribution to the debate, said if Namibia can challenge Germany on the issue of genocide, then it should also challenge South Africa for the apartheid regime in Namibia.
“Talks on genocide should be handled with dignity and respect, because it is a sacred and noble case,” she said.
Supporting Venaani’s view, she also questioned if the genocide reparation negotiations were handled with dignity and respect, noting descendants of the German genocide victims and Germany should come together to negotiate, with Government acting as mediator.
Between 24 000 and 100 000 OvaHerero and 10 000 Nama people died during the genocide of 1904-1908 at the hands of the German colonial forces in Namibia. This was considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century and traditional authorities have been hard at pushing for reparation talks between Namibia and the European state.