Land issue is a direct result of German genocide: Swartbooi

28 Apr 2016 15:40pm
WINDHOEK, 28 APR (NAMPA) – The land issue in Namibia is a direct result of the German genocide, says Deputy Minister of Land Reform, Bernadus Swartbooi in the National assembly on Wednesday.
Swartbooi was speaking during debate of the proposed genocide remembrance day on 28 May, a motion tabled by Swanu of Namibia president Usutuaije Maamberua on Tuesday.
They day is envisioned to be marked as an important occasion to honour the lives that were lost, show solidarity with descendants of the victims, and unite them to ensure genocide never happens again in Namibia.
Swartbooi said it is really sad that today, reconciliation appears to come from one side, meaning it is not necessarily reciprocated as it should be, in all forms be it land or economic empowerment.
He explained that from the perspective of a genocide victim, who knows that 80 to 90 per cent of land comes for instance from areas of two groups, namely the Ovaherero and Namas, it is difficult to appreciate that the resettlement programme is the appropriate means for Namibia to address the land issue that is today the result – directly because of the German genocide.
“Therefore, one is unable to separate the question of genocide from the question of land and land reform. It is difficult – in fact, impossible,” he stated.
Swartbooi further cautioned that although the Ovaherero and Namas were placed in reserves during the genocide, one should also note that it was not only these two groups that lost land, because the people of the Kavango and Zambezi and regions, the Owambo, Damaras and Baster groups, lost land too.
“So, when we speak of land, we must not only be sensitive but we must constantly remind ourselves of the size and scope of the losses from community to community in order to premise our interventions as a nation; and to premise them on genuine restorative justice.”
He also noted that Government will not be perfect in executing and implementing the principles and value of restorative justice; it will struggle, but when it attempts to restore genuinely to achieve restorative justice, it can look back and say it has done its best.
“We are at a point where we need to undertake better discussions not to generalise extermination, as it becomes an issue of great sensitivity and emotion when we appear to too often generalise in the broadest possible levels on the question of extermination,” he said.
The Namibian and German government have for years been in an on and off dialogue regarding the 1904-1908 genocide in which hundreds of Nama and OvaHerero people were killed by the German colonial forces in battles over their land. A genocide committee has been established by both clans and have for years been pushing for reparations from the German government that at first did not recognise the mass killings as a genocide. The Namibian Government in 2015 appointed Zed Ngavirue as special negotiator on the matter and it is quite recent that the German government has engaged in debates over reparations.