Opposition MPs in Namibia on Tuesday (June 8) castigated in Parliament the agreement with Germany on the genocide of thousands of Herero and Nama during the colonial era, accusing Windhoek of having excluded them from the negotiations, just like the representatives of the two tribes. “They have excluded communities of Namibians. What the government has done is apartheid ”, attacked Edson Isaacks, of the opposition Landless People’s Movement Namibia (LPM), saying that the negotiations between the two governments have resulted in a “Discount agreement”.
After more than five years of tough negotiations, Germany admitted at the end of May to have committed “Genocide” on this southern African territory that it colonized between 1884 and 1915 and announced the payment of more than 1.1 billion euros in development aid over thirty years. The agreement, accepted by the Namibian government as “A step in the right direction”, is rejected by many Namibians, including representatives of the Herero and Nama communities, who say they were not invited to the negotiating table.
“You betrayed us”, accused another LPM MP, Utaara Mootu. “This agreement can be signed between Germany and the Namibian government, but the vast majority and the Nama and Herero peoples will reject it with the contempt it deserves”warned Josef Kauandenge, head of another opposition party, the National Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO).
According to Namibian Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who called before Parliament to “Stay united”, the communities concerned were “Fully consulted during negotiations”. The agreement is to be signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries on a date that has not yet been set. Germany has also pledged to issue a formal apology.
This agreement is also criticized for the amount of compensation in aid, judged “Insulting” by representatives of the two communities. Last week, the Namibian vice-president admitted that the sum of 1.1 billion euros was “Insufficient”, ensuring that it would be renegotiated as the projects were implemented. The aid, which should benefit the descendants of the two tribes, will be used in particular for the acquisition of land, the construction of roads in rural areas, the supply of water and sanitation. Some 50 million euros will also be spent on preserving the archives of Namibia’s colonial past.
The crimes committed during German colonization have poisoned relations between the two countries for many years. The massacres of at least 60,000 Herero and around 10,000 Nama by the German army and settlers, between 1904 and 1908, are considered by many historians to be the first genocide of the XXe century. The Namibian authorities demanded a formal apology and reparations, but Germany had repeatedly opposed it, citing the millions of euros in development assistance given to Namibia since its independence in 1990.