Namibian Genocide Reparations
'Excessive demands are impeding progress'
Windhoek – “Excessive” demands by Namibian descendants of victims of German atrocities are hampering the compensation process.
Lawmaker and former Namibian ambassador to Germany, Professor Peter Katjavivi, made the comment shortly after addressing delegates from Germany who were in Namibia this past week to assess the German initiative programme of reparation in the affected communities.
Katjavivi is also Chairperson of Namibia-German Parliamentary Friendship Group, established by Namibian parliamentarians in 2012 to foster inter-parliamentary dialogue between the two countries on issues of genocide and other sustainable development.
“The challenge that is facing us today is the pace of disbursement of funds and other logistics under this programme to the intended beneficiaries and it is the beneficiaries themselves that are delaying the progress because they are demanding too much,” Katjavivi stressed.
He said some of the affected communities are demanding compensation running into millions of dollars while others want livestock and vehicles, even though the reparation token was not supposed to be given to individuals but to the affected communities.
Katjavivi added that Namibia and Germany are seeking ways to speed up the reparation process for atrocities committed by the German colonial forces against the Damara, Nama and Herero people.
This is crucial in order for the two countries to concentrate on fostering socio-economic development programmes and projects, such as farming, healthcare, education, housing, water and transport infrastructure, he said.
Addressing the meeting last week Wednesday, German Chairperson of Namibia-German Parliamentary Group and other Maters of Mutual Interests, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, described the relationship with Namibia as “hostile”, saying that the two governments need to open up and to come up with a lasting solution in order to close this chapter and move on with other issues of mutual interest.
“We need to talk about the issue of genocide.
I know it is a very sensitive issue and we need to come to an agreement on reparations that can be acceptable to both sides as well as to have the remaining skulls back to the motherland,” said the member of the German parliament.
Wieczorek-Zeul stressed the need for the two governments to make strides towards healing the wounds of the affected communities in Namibia.
She added that, “We need to come up with solutions that will enhance the necessary reconciliation and friendly relations between our two people. It must no longer be business as usual.
“However, for this to occur, Germany must insist that larger amounts of its financial resources must be spent on projects and programmes in the said areas.”
Germany's former Development Aid Minister also touched on the issues of the remaining skulls believed to be with Charite University.
She echoed calls for the return of the remaining skulls.
Germany admitted Namibia genocide in 2004, and offered a formal apology for the colonial era massacre of some 65 000 members of the Herero and Nama tribes by German troops in Namibia.
Meanwhile, Germany and Namibia signed an inter-governmental financing agreement on November 16, 2011.
The R660 million co-operation and financing agreements, which are the latest joint ventures between the two nations, inter alia, focus on supporting Namibia’s quest for poverty reduction, combating unemployment and fostering economic development as well as other programmes and projects falling under the German Development Co-operation with Namibia.