Germany committed to conclude genocide negotiations: Polenz

07 Jul 2016 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 07 JUL (NAMPA) - Germany’s Special Envoy for reparation negotiations said his government is committed to talks and how the German apology is to be expressed is under discussion.
Ruprecht Polenz is on a three-day visit to Namibia with two delegates to get first-hand information about atrocities committed by the German colonial troops against OvaHerero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908.
He said preparation for the negotiations is progressing well and all parties involved have so far created a mutual negotiating climate.
Polenz told journalists at a media conference on Wednesday the Namibian negotiation team, through its Special Envoy Dr. Zed Ngavirue, on Wednesday presented their German counterparts with an official document from the Namibian Government.
He did not divulge or disclose anything in respect of the content of the official document.
“These negotiations for genocide reparation will be kept confidential at all times until such a time we obtain the mutual beneficial results. We are working hard to make sure that we get the outcome during the course of this year.
“We want to obtain the outcome that will equally benefit all parties involved, including the descendants of all the affected communities. Our interests are that we get the best results at the end of these negotiations. We want to achieve a win-win-situation with the Namibian Government and the representatives of the affected communities.”
Polenz and his delegation on Monday visited Shark Island, a formerly notorious concentration camp situated near the south-western harbour town of Lüderitz in the //Kharas Region, where many OvaHerero and Nama men, women and children died at the hands of German imperial troops between 1904 and 1908 after an extermination order was issued towards them.
From Shark Island, Polenz and his team on Tuesday travelled to Bethanie, also in the //Kharas Region, and Gibeon in the Hardap Region, where they held meetings with representatives of the descendants of the affected Nama communities.
He said the German negotiation team also held a meeting with OvaHerero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro on Wednesday morning, during which Rukoro strongly insisted that they (affected communities) be included in negotiations and that it should not only be between the two governments as is the case now.
Polenz further said asking for forgiveness doesn’t mean an apology and how that is to be expressed in an appropriate manner by the German Government to the affected communities is one of the many topics under discussion.
As emphasised before on various occasions, he made it clear that “the outcome of the negotiations will not be in any form of monetary benefits or rewards, but will only be availed in forms of educational and other developmental assistance”. These projects would include the spheres of infrastructure development and education in line with the Namibian Government’s goal of eradicating poverty.
Polenz said poverty cannot be eradicated by simply dishing out money and involves working, which will be addressed in the negotiations.
Also at the media conference, German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga noted how the end of 2016 is not a deadline as portrayed in many media reports but a goal for both negotiating teams.
The genocide was characterised by widespread death from starvation and thirst of OvaHerero and Nama people, who were forced into the Namib Desert while fleeing the violence.
The German colonial army had systematically poisoned all known wells and waterholes in the Namib Desert and surrounding areas at the time.
On 19 September 2006, the Namibian Parliament unanimously adopted a motion calling for reparation negotiations with Germany on the genocide committed.
Polenz will return to Namibia during September this year to meet with representatives of Namibians of German origin to get their ideas, inputs and contributions towards the negotiations for genocide reparation.