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Parliament divided over genocide deal

Summary

The National Assembly (NA) was a divided House on Tuesday when Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila tabled the widely contested genocide deal brokered between the German and Namibian governments for ratification.The genocide discussion was initiat…

The National Assembly (NA) was a divided House on Tuesday when Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila tabled the widely contested genocide deal brokered between the German and Namibian governments for ratification.

The genocide discussion was initiated in the NA in 2006 by then Ovaherero paramount chief and National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) leader, the late Kuaima Riruako.

The government announced on Friday that it accepted an N.dollars 18 billion settlement from Germany as reparation for the crimes it committed between 1904 and 1908.

Tabling the agreement in the NA on Tuesday, the prime minister noted that the genocide issue was a sensitive one. She also conceded that the protracted negotiations did not yield the desired outcomes and that the genocide reparations were insufficient.

Making his contribution, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) leader Mike Kavekotora branded the genocide deal between the German and Namibian government “a clear act of molestation and abuse” of the latter.

He said the Euro 1.1 billion is insufficient to atone for the killings of 100 000 Hereros and 10 000 Nama; and theft of 15 million hectares of land and over 200 000 herd of cattle and small stock.

“Germany abused you. You could have withdrawn from the negotiations. You went in there as beggars. If Germany invests the same money they are offering Namibia, they will be paying you interest. You don’t feel the pain of the affected communities. You allowed the German government to rape you,” an emotional Kavekotora vented.

His sentiments crystallised the general feeling by the opposition in parliament, as well as that echoed by some traditional leaders.

Nudo Member of Parliament (MP) Joseph Kauandenge also snubbed the offer, saying the government betrayed the affected communities.

“If I had the statement of the prime minister, I would have torn it apart. It is devoid of any truth. We reject this offer with the contempt it deserves. This government betrayed the spirit of the late Chief Kuaima Riruako. You betrayed the Nama and Ovaherero communities,” he said.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) lawmaker, Utaara Mootu equated the government to “colonisers”.

“Never did I think that one day, I would be looking at you [Kuugongelwa-Amadhila] as a coloniser,” she said before Speaker Peter Katjavivi interjected, saying Mootu was out of line.

She refused to budge as Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Vipuakuje Muharukua came to her defence.

“If the government is behaving like the former colonisers, what must she say,” he asked.

On his part, Muharukua took issue with the “laxity and lack of uprightness” displayed by members of the affected communities who have accepted the deal.

“Those Hereros and Namas who are part of the government who were clapping to the prime minister’s statement are sell-outs,” he fumed before pointing to Swapo MPs Lucia Witbooi, Veno Kauaria and Maureen Hinda-Mbuende.

Hinda-Mbuende contested: “You must withdraw. Of course I clapped but I am not a sell-out.”

As the debate continued, LPM’s Edson Isaacks said government should have walked away from the negotiation table.

“When you have the opportunity to fix, you betrayed us. It is a sorry state. You are practicing apartheid and this whole thing is a sham,” he said.

PDM lawmakers Inna Hengari and Elma Dienda also rejected the deal.

“How does our government expect Germany to take us seriously when we have not set a day aside to commemorate genocide? As a descendant [of genocide], I reject this deal [and] distance myself from this sell-out government,” Hengari said.

Responding to their input, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila maintained that government had the best interest of the affected communities at heart.

“The government cannot betray its own people, we know we will differ but we will not do justice as people if we go to the extent of feeling that the government will betray us. It will not help as individuals,” she insisted.

She added that all Namibians were consulted through meetings and public hearings and that there were repeated calls to communities not involved to come on board.

“But the calls fell on deaf ears.”

President Hage Geingob also invited to State House affected communities and all traditional authorities and while some attended, others responded saying they will not involve themselves in the process, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added.

“It was our intention to have everyone on board from day one. Everyone was invited to form part of the process and what is in the document was what was agreed by Namibians during those consultations.”

Source: Namibia Press Agency