Former cabinet minister Kazenambo Kazenambo says the absence of a common approach in Namibia on the genocide matter has provided fertile grounds for the German government to capitalise and dictate the terms of the negotiation process.
The outspoken former politician also cautioned that the Namibian government is trapping itself because it has submitted a motion to the German government on the matter while there is no central position on which to negotiate.
“From the word go, the approach has entangled us. If we go back a bit to the so called Namibian genocide negotiations from the beginning and compare it with the negotiations on the holocaust of the Jews, firstly the genocide negotiations between the Germans and the State of Israel was presided by the World conference on Genocide for the Holocaust.
The World conference was attended by Jews across the globe and they formed a common position. Those Jewish organisations that represented Jews across the world did not necessarily share the same ideology but they had a common ground, common position on how they should proceed and we did not do that as Namibians,” he said during an interview on the sidelines of a Genocide Public Lecture held at the University of Namibia on Wednesday evening.
Panelists at the discussion included Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, renowned scholar Dr. Henning Melber, Phanuel Kaapama and Sima Luiperth.
He also touched on the impact the fight for the paramount chieftaincy between Advocate Vekuui Rukoro and the Maharero faction has on the genocide talks.
“We are bringing other issues in the issue of genocide, tragically all groups are guilty of this act because there may be individual independent people who do not belong to paramount chief Rukoro, who does not belong to Maharero.
It is not a question of numbers, it is a question of justice so we have missed that point and we still miss that point from a group point of view,” he said.
During the discussions, Kaapama was constantly jeered by the public, simply because he forms part of the Government Negotiation Committee and he is part of the faction opposing Rukoro’s chieftaincy.
Most of the attendees formed part of the Rukoro faction that is currently fighting the Germans in a U.S. court in their bid to force the Germans to apologise for the genocide committed against the Ovaherero and Nama people as well as to compel them to pay reparations.
In contrast to Kazenambo’s position, Kaapama maintained that the Germans do not have a common position on the genocide matter.
“They do not have a position at government level like we do. A simple question is being asked, on what basis are they negotiating with us? Unlike on the issue of the Holocaust, Germany had a position.
They dismissed the Holocaust just like they are dismissing the Namibian genocide. When they dismissed the Holocaust they were personally attacked by various organisations until they came up with a law on the Holocaust in Germany through which they negotiated,” he said.
Kazenambo further questioned: “On what basis are these negotiations done, can the Namibian government tell us what position the Germans have because they are constantly rejecting the motion on genocide while negotiating without on the negotiating with us that is why I am saying from the go these negotiations it is a fuss.”
Kazenambo accused the German government of being disrespectful and disingenuous throughout the negotiations.
“When we went to negotiate for the return of the skulls, Germany was trying to apply the very same tactics which they are applying now.
We have a model here, before we went to Germany we had several meetings where we ironed out the differences within the group. We went with one position and when we differed in Germany, we conveyed meetings.
“I don’t know what went wrong during the Genocide negotiations. The model and approach is totally wrong and partisan because the affected communities were not consulted. Let’s go back to the drawing board and take the path of other international organisations.
The models are there, Germany is trying to manipulate us by calling us names and feeding on our weaknesses. Genocide is a crime; it’s not about numbers it is crime. My grandparents were affected, we were pushed and we were dispossessed,” said a clearly irate Kazenambo.
“The narrative is in their favour, where have you seen a perpetrator becoming the decider? Germany cannot be the jury and the judge in the crime they have committed. So let’s go back to the drawing board and see how we can deal with this issue,” he charged.