Sunday 28 May 2017

Namibia: Geingob Seeks Unity of Genocide Groups

Namibia: Geingob Seeks Unity of Genocide Groups
(The Namibian 05/16/17)
Namibia: Geingob Seeks Unity of Genocide Groups

President Hage Geingob yesterday said genocide negotiations with Germany would be less credible without unity, and with the exclusion of representatives of the affected communities.

He expressed these views while addressing the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation, and the Nama Technical Committee on Genocide. The two groups, led by Ida Hoffmann and Vekuii Rukoro, met Geingob at State House.

The President said he chose to meet the groups in order to seek unity between them as division would make a mockery of Namibian calls in the eyes of the Germans.

"We should not allow Germany to sit and laugh at us. Even if we were to go and get a good agreement, there would be some in the streets saying they were left out. What credibility would be there if some are left out?" asked Geingob.

The President said the meeting was a request from the two groups, but he granted it in his attempt to ensure inclusivity in the Namibian house.

"We are engaging a foreign government [...] it seems we are divided when approaching a foreign government, which has to answer our questions," he stated.

Geingob said the mandate given to him at election time, which saw him getting up to 87% of votes, is a sign that he represents all, "including the snakes."

According to him, genocide is a very important topic, and the German authorities need to express remorse and issue an apology.

"We are here now to see how we go on, and where we go," said Geingob.

Media reports show that the groups which met Geingob were not only at odds with government for refusing to include them in the negotiation process, but also never saw eye to eye with the Willem Konjore-led Ovaherero-Ovambanderu Council for Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (OCD 1904).

In March this year, Konjore's group met Geingob, and claimed to be the only representatives of the descendants of the genocide victims.

Geingob at the time said it was useless to fight for recognition and power when there are bigger things to address. Yesterday, the government's special envoy, Zed Ngavirue, said the meeting "had more to do with their participation in the process, not actually a briefing".

"What is happening is that there are representatives of the communities who are outside the process. I think the task would be maybe to weld those two together," he said, adding that this would prevent government from choosing between the two.

According to Ngavirue, it is the coming together of these groups which will define how they can go about the process. Rukoro described the meeting as positive, saying its purpose was to bridge the gap that has been separating the genocide groups and government.

Rukoro said until now, his group has been excluded in discussions with German authorities. "We made certain proposals to the President on how to overcome that."

According to him, an apology should first be made to the affected communities and to government before reparations.

"Cash is the very last item on the list of things we have in mind. I am being brutally frank; let the Germans be very clear about that. We carry a huge burden of psychological trauma, from generations to generations," said Rukoro. Government, which has maintained an adverse stance on genocide reparations, in March demanded in a lawsuit that Germany pays up to N$400 billion.

Sources at the time told The Namibian that they would seek support from the two groups Geingob met yesterday.

By Ndanki Kahiurika

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