Africa-Press – South-Sudan. Minister of Information and Communication Technology Peya Mushelenga said Germany should guard against selective justice and discrimination towards genocide victims. Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Mushelenga said he supports defence minister Frans Kapofi’s notion of having government work hard in securing an improved and acceptable reparations quantum.
An agreement was reached earlier this year between Namibia and the German government, which includes the European nation setting aside about N$18 billion to aid local projects over 30 years. The agreement is currently being discussed in parliament for ratification. Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century.
German troops massacred and displaced tens of thousands of Namibians between 1904-1908. In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by Germany as well as reparations. Mushelenga, a political scientist, argued that Germany entered into bilateral treaties for reparations with European countries whose nationals suffered at the hands of German troops during World War II.
He said then – federal president Joachim Gauck stated on 23 April 2015 that the execution of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire on 24 April 1915 constitutes acts of genocide.
He also quoted the German president as stating that Germany should consider reparations for destruction caused to other communities by Germany during the Second World War, like Greece. Elaborating on his argument, Mushelenga highlighted that Germany offered 400 million Deutsche Mark (DM) (1.7 billion DM or 916 million euros today) as reparation for deportation and imprisonment to France – which is slightly below the 1.1 billion Euros (N$18 billion at the current exchange rate) that Germany offered Namibia.
He also reminded Germany that it had paid massive amounts of money in Holocaust reparations to Israel. “Logic presupposes that deportation and imprisonments are in no way comparable to the killings, displacements, torture, detentions in incarceration camps, rape, dispossession of property and destruction of culture and traditions of the Ovaherero and Nama people and the collateral damage to other communities,” said Mushelenga.
Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein added his voice to the proceedings on Wednesday, rising to warn that “the genocide debate may change the way we Namibians relate to each other. I observe that we are regressing back into being divided instead of unified, where it is more important to think, feel and act in favour of one or the other faction than being a Namibian first. In fact, it undermines our chances to develop into a peaceful and prosperous nation.”
He said Namibians today still suffer from the consequences of the genocide, which had severe and multiple impacts on the most affected groups, but also on groups and individuals other than the Nama and Ovaherero.
“Furthermore, this genocide was not the only oppressive act through which Namibians were killed, dispossessed, expropriated of their wealth and means of production,” stressed Schlettwein.
He said “the quantum of 1.1 billion euro is not anywhere close to what we had initially proposed. We too believe that should be renegotiated. We too are not satisfied. We, however, believe it would be unwise to reject it lock, stock and barrel.”
Mushelenga said the suggested discrepancies in the compensation offers between Europe and Namibia makes one think that the “mischievous racism at the Nuremberg trials is rearing its ugly head in the considerations of Namibia’s genocide reparations”.