Government breaks down genocide costs
• Loss of life – N$188 billion
• Loss of livelihood – N$37 billion
• Loss of land – N$28.2 billion
• Forced labor – N$245.2 billion
• Other costs – N$12.2 billion
Confidential documents seen by The Patriot has lifted the veil on how government has come to the conclusion to slap the German government with a N$510 billion reparation bill for damages, deaths, livelihood and land losses that resulted from the 1904-08 Genocide.
Government is however concerned that the German government’s insistence to enhance the economic performance of Namibia and its proposal to engage Namibia on various projects to strengthen the relationship between the two countries does not place Namibia in a position to address the concerns of the affected communities.
This is the view expressed by former attorney general Sakeus Shanghala in a letter written to President Hage Geingob on 3 October 2016.
Shanghala stressed the need to exhaust diplomatic engagement before any one considers alternative channels through which to seek justice.
“I do not want to advocate for any litigation, however, I am alive to the sentiments that perhaps our Government is not doing enough and it is not the appropriate body to engage with the German authorities on the matters,” he said.
He added: “Of course I reject these arguments, however as a government, it is my opinion that we have not articulated with clarity and with the requisite jurisprudential substance, our narrative of what had transpired and our basis in law for a legitimate discussion on Genocide as a stand-alone, not subsumed with developmental assistance.”
According to the National briefing paper on the 1904-08 Genocide, Apology and Reparation Technical Committee dated 2016, which was leaked, chronicles the direct economic impact on Namibia of the genocidal actions taken against targeted groups.
The paper focuses mainly on destruction in areas such as lives, land, livestock and lifestyle.
Although the exact number of Genocide victims remains a mystery, government calculated the lives lost as a result of the Genocide at N$188 million.
The estimate number of casualties is at 66 341 Hereros and Namas.
A 1911 census revealed that 19 423 Herero and 14 236 Nama remained in German South-West Africa.
The United Nations’ Whitaker Report indicated that a population of 80 000 Herero was reduced to 15 000 between 1904-07.
“The existence of a fair value of life is an important principle in estimating the real cost of the Genocide and atrocities committed by the German government in SWA.
Therefore, the compensation model is based on the premise that if these people had not been killed they were going to become productive citizens of our country,” states the briefing paper.
It further stated: “In this regard, our argument estimates the potential contribution to the economy and unique existence value of this missing population.”
Government said it made the calculations on the basis of a figure of 66 341 lives lost, and assuming normal attrition and population dynamics.
It also outlined that “we calculate that, if there had been no Genocide, there would have been at least 954 903 additional productive Namibians today.”
“Developing an existence value for a human being is a great challenge however, we found that the use of ten times per capita income is a good proxy for estimating the existence value of a human,” explained government.
The loss of livestock and livelihood is another factor that was taken into account, considering the fact that under German colonial rule ‘the natives’ were routinely used as slave labourers and their land was frequently confiscated and given to colonialists.
The land was subsequently stocked with cattle stolen from Hereros and Namas.
Government says the estimated cost of loss of livelihood is N$37 billion. The loss of access to land and pasturage is estimated at 130 000 square kilometers(28.2 million hectares). Government estimated the cost of lost productive land at N$28.2 billion.
Namibia also wants Germany to pay N$245.4 billion for forced labour to which many Genocide survivors were subjected to.
This includes working for the military, civil administration, private households and business conglomerates.
The briefing paper also outlined how the German companies that worked in SWA benefited a great deal from forced labour.
“The literature shows that forced labour was not only limited to able men and women, but it went as far as conscripting children as young as six years who were used as personal servants for military personnel.
This clearly demonstrates the severe and desperate measures taken by the German imperial government and its private sector conglomerates towards the Namibian population,” the paper noted.
It also indicates that wages for the forced labourers were not paid to them, but to the German government.
Other costs and damages which include psychological, cultural and displacement have also been considered.
A ‘conservative’ claim of N$12.2 billion was made.
Although the German government continues to advocate against paying any reparations, its previous commitment to pay nearly 800 million Euros for the care of elderly Holocaust survivors as a result of negotiations in Israel between Berlin and a fund for Jewish victims of Nazi aggression has set precedence.
Examples of Impact of the Genocide on Namibia
Loss of Land
The total amount of land confiscated as a result of the 1905 proclamations (ad a direct consequence of the Genocide) was demonstrably more than 25 000 000 hectares.
In addition, a significant proportion of that land constitutes the most fertile and profitable land in Namibia. Little of the confiscated land has been returned to its original owners.
Loss of Livestock
After the confiscation and exodus following the extermination orders the Herero were left with no cattle, and lost more than 80 000 animals. Affected Nama communities also lost the majority of their livestock.
Loss of Human Lives
The official German census of 1911 shows that there were 19 423 Herero left out of an original 80 000 and 14 236 Nama out of an original 20 000. The census also indicates that Damara population estimated at 30 000 in the pre-war period has been reduced to 18 487.
Loss of cultural and social identity
The Impact of Genocide destroyed the economic foundations of the effected communities land, labour and livestock.
The traditional leadership of the communities had been killed or forced in to exile and this was linked to the weakening and in some cases the destruction of traditional beliefs and rituals.
The existence of a large community of Ovaherero living in Botswana as a result of the Genocide meant that after independence the Namibian government faced a major expense to organize the repatriation of this group to their ancestral land homeland.
Families were separated from gravesites that played an important role in the Herero belief system and the Holy Fire was extinguished in hundreds of households.
After the end of the German colonial period some of the Herero in exile had to return to revive the Holy fires. A massive loss of belief in traditional religion after the Genocide has been recorded and indeed concentration camps were at active site for Christian conversion.
The displacement of Herero and Nama communities from important graves and heritage sites had a devastating impact on traditional belief system.
Herero ancestral graves located now on commercial farms are inaccessible for ritual purposes. In addition, the removal of children from their families led to a culture and identity.
Sexual abuse in the camps was also linked to the introduction of sexually transmitted diseases and pronounced drop in the birth rate.
The rape of women had a cultural impact too as the children that resulted were not culturally entitled to the same status within family structures.