“Who mandated the German Special Envoy on the genocide negotiations” was a prevalent question earlier this month during a public dialogue hosted at the University of Namibia on the genocide talks.
The envoy in question is retired German politician, Ruprecht Polenz who was appointed by the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Advocate Vekuii Rukoro questioned the mandate of Polenz by stating that the negotiating sides on the genocide are not equal as “the Namibian envoy is mandated by parliament and subsequently appointed by the President.
Whilst the German envoy is appointed by the Federal Minister and is at the level of an African desk in the foreign ministry and reports to the head of the African department”.
An indignant Rukoro further explained that the Namibian executive branch of government was given a mandate by parliament through a unanimously voted parliamentary resolution.
“It was this parliamentary resolution that led to the Presidential appointment of Ambassador Ngavirue.
Meanwhile on the German side, the ruling coalition in the German Bundestag (parliament) turned down a similar resolution because they did not want their government to be bound by such a resolution.
Therefore, until today; the ruling coalition continues to block passing any resolution on the matter. And this is what we question; where is the mandate of the German envoy derived from?” he asked.
The relevant Namibian parliamentary resolution entailed three pillars; that the Namibian and German governments negotiate terms for atoning for the genocide with the descendants of the affected communities, that reparation payments be issued and that an official apology be issued by the German government for the genocide.
Rukoro maintained that these pillars were disregarded and the parliamentary resolution breached; with the Namibian government excluding the genocide descendants from the talks and the German government refusing to pay reparations, let alone recognise the genocide as genocide.
“We saw this coming and that is why we decided to take the German government to court so that they can start negotiating on the genocide which entails paying reparations and not camouflage it with aid. We will go to court on the third of May and take it from there. We will fight it out in court” added Rukoro.
This publication approached German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga who affirmed that “Mr Ruprecht Polenz is the Special Envoy of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the bilateral negotiations with Namibia with a view to finding a joint approach to the painful colonial past”. Polenz is a veteran politician and a long term Chairman on the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
He stated during an interview with How Germany ticks that “ Ultimately, it is also important to us that Namibia is able to accept an apology from the German side. Then, on that basis, we would like to develop and maintain a common culture of remembrance.
Rukoro nonetheless countered that the German government is not negotiating genocide but development aid.”
They are very clear on that because they have already rejected the N$1.3 trillion reparation submission by Ambassador Ngavirue.
Instead they countered that they are looking at the Harambee Prosperity Plan as a national development plan and therefore want to support government in that regard.
Whatever the Namibian government is going to sign will eventually be development aid and not reparation” he charged.
President of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani believes that there is no monetary value that can ever make up for the loss incurred during the genocide.
“It is important that Germany understands that the negotiations are not about money.
So, wanting to counter reparation demands with aid is arrogant to say the least.
To date they continue to pay the Jewish reparations years later after the Holocaust.
So, they can do the same for the Herero and Nama genocide without camouflaging it as development aid” he argued.
Venaani also defied concerns over the appointment of the German Special Envoy.
“It works in our interest to not really mind who appointed Polenz. This is because the Foreign Minister of Germany wields a lot of power.
Furthermore, during the negotiations for the Jewish Holocaust, the German government was represented by the foreign Minister and this means that he (Polenz) is a representative of the German government just like Ambassador Ngavirue is the Namibian government’s representative” he maintained.
According to Venaani, the genocide cannot be fully resolved through court, instead the Namibian government needs to include all the affected communities to ensure meaningful negotiations.