Genocide legal fees, barking up the wrong tree

As the saying goes, whom the gods want to destroy they first make crazy. One cannot but wonder whether the latest altercations in the media on the issue of genocide and specifically the N$40 million legal fees of foreign lawyers are not pointers to the effect that the gods/ancestors of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama are out to destroy someone. Particularly seeing the public spat, and play to the gallery, whatever gallery, by two apparatuses of the government. But with hindsight one cannot also BUT doubt the relevance of the public spat and as much the sincerity of those, from whatever quarters and angles, who have joined the N$40 million legal fees public posturing.

As much one cannot understand why the matter seems lately to be enjoying more media attention and newsprint space, which is unprecedented and disproportionate when compared to the historical record of a section of the local media coverage of the genocide and reparation issue over the years.

This cannot be the only concern but the legal fees issue seems also to have surpassed the actual issue in terms of substance and relevance. Strangely, and hypocritically, those seemingly now so much concerned about the exorbitant fees are the ones who were supposed to have ensured, in the first place, that correct procedures are followed, and if needs be the amount involved has not been disbursed.

Not to mention that the provision of the said legal services should have been enlisted locally. Certainly Namibia must have some competent legal minds that could have equipped themselves equal, if not more, to the task. Not only this, but also the kind of legal services sought, even insights in this regard, cannot but be suspect. Because surely one is well aware that when it comes to reparation issues we have countries such as the Caricom, which have been seized with colonial claims, against, among others, Britain. Surely these must possess the requisite pool of legal knowledge and experts who may have come our purported case in good stead had they been approached. Not only this, but as brotherly and sisterly countries, surely we must have the requisite political and ideological disposition and acumen to be of immeasurable value to the greater issue of genocide and reparations.

But can, and should a legal fees detour, if completely not a misdirection of the legitimate claim of the affected communities for restitution, be the issue at this juncture?

Is one not actually running the risk of being diverted from the real substantive issue talking about the said legal fees, while there have been relevant issues pertaining to the actual claim and demand of the affected communities? An issue like the premises of avowed state actors and their claim to fame regarding the claim of the affected communities. Not only this, but the issue is also what currently is driving our government's approach at all on the issue of genocide and reparation? Because, as far as one may be concerned, despite the ruling party's policy conference last October, where the genocide and reparations topic must have served as a critical policy issue followed by a comprehensive policy position, it is any one's guess whether indeed this happened and one can today speak of any policy besides official conjectures on genocide and reparations, be it either by the ruling party and/or government. Notwithstanding, of course, impromptu, intuitive, uniformed, insensitive and careless if not indifferent pronouncements now and then by one or other ruling party or government leaders as it may behest them individually, rather than collectively. That is why one cannot but look at the current chorus on the legal fees of foreign legal experts as only opportunistic as these do not speak to the essence and substance of the genocide and reparation issue. They speak instead to matters peripheral to it.

Last year the government submitted its proposals to the German government, which to this day remain classified to many Namibians. This is while these proposals are claimed to have been submitted on behalf of the people of Namibia who are the first legitimate claimants against the genocide committed against them, particularly the affected communities. Yet, neither the people nor their legitimate representatives know anything about the content of the government's submission.

The German government only responded to the Namibian government's submission this June, a year or so after its submission. The content of the German position paper, as it has been titled, also remains a mystery to the affected communities, or to any other person out there who may be interested in the matter, even for academic purposes. How then can the affected Namibians really have any grain of confidence that they are genuinely and correctly being represented by the government in this matter as it has been purporting? Namibia's special envoy just returned early this month from Berlin, Germany, for the sixth round of negotiations. But still the nation, especially the affected communities, remains in the dark as to what this sixth round may have produced. Yet, they are expected to have some confidence and expectations in such. The genocide and reparations issue does not belong to anyone, be it the two state actors, the Namibian and German governments, nor the affected communities. The latter may have a legitimate right to champion their cause, but they by no means own this cause. Not when they are expecting solidarity and sympathy from all Namibians, whether affected or not, as well as international solidarity. Such support cannot be forthcoming unless some of the actors, state and non-state, monopolizing the campaign, wake up from their slumber of arrogance.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia