After long negotiations, Germany and Namibia have agreed on a reconciliation agreement. Now representatives of affected population groups have rejected the offspring. Do you have to renegotiate?
An association of chiefs of the Herero and Nama ethnic groups has rejected the agreement proposed by Germany through which the federal government recognizes the crimes of the German colonial power more than 100 years ago in what is now Namibia as genocide. They are demanding that the planned signing ceremony between Germany and Namibia be postponed.
The support payments of 1.1 billion euros over 30 years offered by the federal government are “a shocking revelation”, “unacceptable” and an “affront to our existence”, said representatives of the Council of Chiefs recognized by the Namibian government in an on Notice published on Monday. The “offensive amount” is rejected.
The Council welcomes the recognition of the genocide by the federal government, the admission of guilt for the atrocities that have taken place more than 100 years ago and the planned request for forgiveness. The reparations issue must be renegotiated, however, it said.
After almost six years of negotiations, the German and Namibian governments reached an agreement on reconciliation last week. The council of chiefs now stated that it had not been involved in the negotiations in good time to consult the ethnic groups concerned. The Ovaherero Traditional Authority, another Herero group, had already described the agreement last week as a PR coup for Germany and a fraud against the Namibian government.
The Namibian government was surprised by the position of the Council of Chiefs and spoke of a serious step backwards. The council was involved in the entire negotiation process, said the special representative and negotiator of the Namibian government, Zed Ngavirue, the German press agency.
The Namibian Parliament is on a break until June 8; then the prime minister would present a report. The negotiations now have to be reassessed. “I think Germany was aware of the fact that there are divisions in this country … We all have to judge the extent to which (the opinion of the Council of Chiefs) has to be seriously considered,” stressed Ngavirue.
The federal government had repeatedly emphasized that, from its point of view, there was no legal right to compensation. The 1.1 billion euros should be understood as a political and moral obligation.
The German Reich was a colonial power in what was then German South West Africa from 1884 to 1915 and brutally put down rebellions. During the Herero and Nama war from 1904 to 1908 there was a mass murder, which is considered to be the first genocide in the 20th century. Historians estimate that 65,000 were killed by 80,000 Herero and at least 10,000 by 20,000 Nama. The Federal Foreign Office has been using the term genocide in its general parlance since 2015. Now the atrocities are officially known as genocide.