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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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