Windhoek – NAMIBIAN Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the recently concluded negotiations with Germany to get the European country to start atoning for its genocidal sins in the Southern African nation were riddled with difficulties and resistance from the get go.
Germany recently agreed to finally accept that the murder of tens of thousands of Namibians between 1904 and 1908 was a genocide, said it would make a formal public apology for its crimes, and pledged to extend developmental assistance to the tune of US$1.3 billion to Namibia over the course of the next 30 years.
Not everyone is happy with Germany’s concessions, saying they were too little too late. But PM Kuugongelwa-Amadhila this week told Namibian legislators that extracting even these concessions had been tall order.
Formal bilateral engagements started in 2016 and were only concluded this year.
The Namibian PM said it took much skillful negotiating and strategic hardball to get Germany to accept that the mass killing of the Ovaherero and Nama, the forceful seizure of land, the torture and illegal imprisonment of tens of thousands of people, and the looting of cultural artifacts were all crimes at international law.
Germany now admits that the killings were genocide in terms of the 1948 UN Convention.
PM Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, “In light of our position, without acceptance that Germany committed a genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama communities, there would be no basis for an apology. Germany refused to pay reparations. Instead, the German Government offered a financial contribution of what it called the ‘healing of wounds’, which was far from what our non-negotiable stance was.
“I am informing this August House that as an outcome of the negotiations, Namibia and Germany agreed on a Joint Declaration. This is the framework which will guide the process of acknowledgement of genocide; rendering of an apology and the payments of reparations by the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the future relations between the two countries.
“The Declaration will be signed by the foreign ministers of Namibia and Germany, respectively. Once, signed, the Joint Declaration will be brought to this August House for consideration and ratification, as it is practice under the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia.”
She said the challenging negotiations culminated in Germany agreeing to unconditionally apologise to affected communities, and the people and Government of Namibia.
“The apology will be delivered by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany in the National Assembly of Namibia, on a date to be agreed upon between the two governments; and Germany agreed to provide the necessary means (reparations) in the form of monetary compensation for reconciliation and reconstruction programmes for the particular affected communities,” she said.
The PM said the reparations package would comprise reconciliation and reconstruction programmes.
“With regard to the reconstruction programme, a programme will be set up to assist the development of the descendants of the affected communities, in line with their identified needs. Representatives of these communities will participate in this process in a decisive capacity,” she said.
PM Kuugongelwa-Amadhila went on to say: “Germany commits herself to allocate (€1.1 billion, US$1.3 billion) over a period of 30 years. Of this, the amount of €1.050 will be dedicated to the reconstruction programmes, benefitting the descendants of the affected communities. €50 million will be dedicated to the projects on 13 reconciliation, remembrance, research and education.
“The allocation of funds will be as follows: €50 million for reconciliation; €130 million for renewable energy; €150 million for vocational training; €100 million for rural roads; €130 million for rural water supply and sanitation; and €540 million for land acquisition and training, thus making the total amount of €1,1 billion for a period of 30 years.
“It has been agreed that during the implementation of these programmes, technical assistance should not be more than five percent of the total amount, so that funds could be spent on the programmes,” she said.