Namibia Genocide: After Germany‘s Apology, Opposition Slams Reconciliation Deal as ‚Betrayal‘

Written by | Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

Namibia’s opposition has slammed the government’s reconciliation agreement with Germany, accusing it of sidelining them and the communities directly affected. As legislators in Namibia’s capital Windhoek began debating the planned reconciliation agreement under which Berlin officially acknowledged an early 20th-century genocide by colonial troops and agreed to more than €1bn settlement, the country’s Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has called for unity during rowdy parliamentary session. The funds – which would go into development projects – are meant to be distributed across a 30-year period. “This issue is indeed a sensitive one,” the Prime Minister said, her appeals for unity interrupted by heckling from MPs. “It is important that we do not become divided over this issue, but remain united as a nation in pursuing it until its logical conclusion,” she said.
This comes after Germany recognized, for the first time, that it committed genocide in Namibia during its colonial rule more than a century ago and promised massive financial support to fund infrastructure projects in the African nation. German settlers killed thousands of Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against Berlin’s rule in the colony, then called German South West Africa. Survivors were driven into the desert, where many ended up in concentration camps to be used as slave labour and many died from cold, malnutrition and exhaustion. “We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today’s perspective: genocide,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement (28 May). “In light of the historical and moral responsibility of Germany, we will ask forgiveness from Namibia and the victims’ descendants for the atrocities committed,” he said.
And while the news was welcomed by Namibia, a spokesman for the country’s President Hage Geingob told the press that “it is the basis for the second step, which is an apology, to be followed by reparations.” But during the parliament debate, opposition politicians took turns denouncing the deal and with the Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro earlier telling Reuters this agreement was a “sellout”. One lawmaker accused the government of practicing „apartheid“, while another told Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila: “You have betrayed us.” Still the Prime Minister insisted that the affected communities were “fully consulted during the negotiations”. However, descendants of the affected communities hit back at the government because they were not included in the process. They have demanded that reparations be paid to their communities directly. The reconciliation agreement needs to be ratified by both the Namibian and German parliament, after which it will be signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers.

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