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IN SHORT


16 JUNE 2021


Parliament suspended – still

National Assembly sittings for this week (15, 16, and 17 June 2021) have been suspended due to an increased number of staff and Members of Parliament (MPs) testing positive for Covid-19.

The parliamentary press secretariat on Tuesday announced that Speaker Peter Katjavivi has also tested positive for Covid-19. Six staff and three MPs were then confirmed positive.

Normal sessions of the House are expected to resume next week on 22 June 2021.

The Covid-19 situation in Namibia has turned for the worse over the last four weeks following an exponential increase in numbers of infections, particularly in Windhoek where 52% of the total cases in the country were recorded.

In response, the government has announced stricter public health and safety protocols applicable until 30 June.


Call for moratorium on oil & gas exploration

Local and international activists are urging the Namibian government to impose an immediate moratorium on all oil and gas exploration activities in the two Kavango regions.

They further call on the government to initiate a transboundary and multi-national strategic environmental assessment for the entire oil development life cycle before Canadian company ReconAfrica is allowed to continue with its drilling and exploration activities there.

The organisations – Saving Ovakango's Unique Life (SOUL), the Women's Leadership Centre (WLC), and the Namibia San Council (NSC) – made these calls at a hearing on the matter before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources on 15 June.

Appearing alongside these organisations were representatives of the Kavango East and Kavango West Regional Conservancy and Community Forest Association that presented the parliamentary committee with a number of objection letters from community organisations that were submitted to the regions' communal land boards last month.

These letters are objecting to ReconAfrica's application for the right of leaseholds over land where it has commenced with drilling and exploration activities.

Chairperson of the parliamentary committee, Swapo MP Tjekero Tweya, said the committee's mandate is to investigate all claims made by the petitioners.

He said it will form an internal work plan for its future engagements with the various stakeholders.

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IN SHORT

10 June 2021


Namibia in grip of Covid wave

The parliamentary sitting for today (10 June 2021) was cancelled due to Covid-19 cases reported among parliamentary staff.

This is a reflection of the exponential spike in the number of new infections, hospitalisations, and deaths recorded across the country over the last few weeks.

Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula in Parliament on Wednesday (9 June 2021) said the numbers are “alarming”.

The ministry on Tuesday reported a 25% positivity ratio from tests over a 24-hour period.

The deadly South African variant of the virus was confirmed in a “significant” number of Covid-19 positive cases.

Shangula reported that from 7 June Namibia reported a cumulative number of 59'092 confirmed cases and 912 deaths, compared to 355 deaths reported by 7 February.

In the last two weeks Namibia reported 5'761 new confirmed cases and 147 deaths.

The increased numbers are placing a huge strain on public and private health facilities.

The occupancy rate in most Covid-19 isolation and intensive care units ranges between 67% and 100% on any given day.

The ministry started with its vaccination roll-out on 18 March with donations of 100'000 doses of China's Sinopharm, and 30'000 doses of Covishield from India.

Namibia also received two consignments totalling 67'200 doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX facility.

Shangula said more doses of vaccines are expected from Sinopharm through the African Medical Supply (AMS) platform.

By 7 June 76'259 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, and 11'608 were fully vaccinated.


Motion on youth empowerment in offing

Landless People's Movement (LPM) MP Utaara Mootu will table a motion in Parliament on an 'integrated youth development strategy'.

She said the aim of the motion is to harness political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal instruments for the eradication of poverty among the country's youth.

Mootu said while the youth form the bulk of the Namibian nation, government's response over the last 31 years since independence has been “inadequate or misplaced”.

“The youth of Namibia are intentionally exposed to poverty and unemployment, worse than ever before,” Mootu said.

Mootu also called for an investment conference to attract investments to the newly opened Neckertal Dam in the south of the country.


Practical solution to water debts required

United Democratic Front (UDF) MP Dudu Murorua wants Parliament to debate and consider practical means that will help local authorities become self-sustaining in servicing their water debts to the national water utility, NamWater.

Many municipalities are in arrears with their water payments, payments they are not able to make and which leave them indefinitely indebted to NamWater.


Kasingo explains PAP chaos

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Loide Kasingo on 8 June 2021 said the abrupt chaotic ending of the fourth ordinary session of the fifth Pan African Parliament (PAP) was due to a succession battle between African regional blocks making up the legislative body.

Kasingo has led the Namibian delegation of lawmakers to the session in May in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Reporting to the Namibian Parliament this week, she said despite the principle of geographical rotation agreed upon by the African Union, the northern and southern African regions have been deprived of the leadership since the inception of PAP in 2004.

“This was the bone of contention in the recent session of PAP,” Kasingo said.

For the past 17 years, the presidency of PAP was held by eastern, central, and western African regions.

Kasingo said the opposition to the demands of rotation by western and some other regions degenerated into chaos, which warranted the suspension of the electoral process and the session.


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https://avalanches.com/na/windhoek__genocide_agreement_up_front_in_parliament_1714239_09_06_2021

Genocide agreement up front in Parliament

  • Agreement fails to wow


The 1.1 billion Euros to be paid over 30 years for the 1904 to 1908 genocide of Ovaherero and Nama communities the German government has agreed to pay as reparations will not go towards the Namibian government, but will be paid into a special vehicle to be set out.

This was said by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila at the resumption of the third session of the seventh Parliament yesterday (8 June 2021) in reaction to public criticism that the money might be diverted by government to fill the cash-gaps in the national budget.

The Namibian and German governments have been involved in a five-year long negotiation process – between 2015 to 2021 – consisting of nine rounds of negotiations on the genocide matter, and struck an agreement on 15 May this year.

Under this agreement, the two governments will set up a body – an implementation vehicle – that will be responsible for the implementation of the reparations programme agreed upon.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the money will be deposited into a fund that is separate and outside of the Namibian government national budget, stressing that it will not be used for other government programmes and activities.

“The reconstruction and reconciliation programmes processes will be transparent, and the amounts allocated to the affected communities will be solely dedicated to the implementation of the agreement,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.

She said the governance of the fund will be on a trilateral basis, composed of representatives of the Namibian and German governments, and the affected communities.

The legal framework for the implementation vehicle will be developed in a transparent manner with the full participation of the affected communities, she added.


GENOCIDE AGREEMENT

The two governments agreed to set up a joint declaration, a framework that will guide the process of acknowledgement of genocide, rendering an apology, and the payments of reparations by the German government, as well as future relations between the two countries.

The declaration will be signed by the foreign ministers, and once signed, it will be brought to the Namibian National Assembly for consideration and ratification.


Components of the declaration

The three components of the declaration are:

  1. Acknowledgement of genocide: Germany has agreed that the genocide committed by German imperial troops against the Ovaherero and Nama between 1904 to 1908 constitutes and fits the definition of genocide as prescribed in the United Nations Convention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. It further agreed that a large number of Damaras and San communities were also exterminated.
  2. Apology: The German government agreed to render an unconditional apology to the affected communities and the people of Namibia for the genocide. This apology will be delivered by Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Namibia's National Assembly on a date yet to be agreed upon.
  3. Payment of reparations: Germany agreed to pay reparations in the form of monetary compensation for reconciliation and reconstruction programmes to particularly the affected communities.

Under the reconstruction programme, projects will be implemented in the Erongo, Hardap, //Kharas, Kunene, Khomas, Omaheke, and Otjozondjupa regions in the land reform sector, particularly for land acquisition within the framework of Namibia's land reform programme. Other areas to be covered are rural livelihoods, natural resources, rural infrastructure, energy, water supply, and technical and vocational education and training.

As far as the reconciliation programme goes, Germany committed to promote and support reconciliation between the peoples of the two countries through preserving memory work of the colonial era, in particular the 1904 to 1908 period, support for research and education, cultural and linguistic issues, and encouraging exchanges between the two nations.


Allocation of the funds

The two countries' governments agreed for the funds to be allocated over 30 years as followed:

  • 50 million Euro for reconciliation
  • 130 million Euro for renewable energy
  • 150 million Euro for vocational training
  • 100 million Euro for rural roads
  • 130 million Euro for rural water supply and sanitation
  • 540 million Euro for land acquisition and training


THE BACKLASH

The agreement struck between the two governments has come under heavy criticism from the affected communities who feel that particularly the monetary compensation falls far short of the mark.

Traditional leaders from these communities have rejected Germany's money offer, and instead are now demanding N$8 trillion to be paid over a 40-year period, as well as a pension fund.

Opposition parties in parliament yesterday also denounced the agreement, and the declaration, accusing the Namibian government of having “sold out” and as having excluded the affected communities from the negotiations.

The affected communities suffered another defeat when the US Supreme court declined to hear the Ovaherero and Nama petition in a case brought by these communities against the German government there.

The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) in a statement on Monday (7 June 2021) acknowledged defeat, stating: “This marks the end of our legal campaign in the courts of the US but most certainly not the end of our struggle to achieve restorative justice for our people.”

The OTA called for a trilateral negotiating platform where the descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama communities are represented by their own chosen leaders, and “not by a proxy in any shape or form”.


Photo: Ovaherero captives of German imperial troops. Namibia National Archives

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