Genocide storm still swirling around Geingob

NEED FOR CLARITY … Commentators have requested president Geingob to clarify his remarks when he compared the impact severity of the 1904 genocide to the apartheid era. Photo: BBC

The dust kicked up by president Hage Geingob’s recent statements comparing the severity of the apartheid era to the Herero-Nama genocide continues, with more commentators criticising the head of state.

“Reconciliation of Germany and Namibia is there. We have diplomatic relations, we have peace. This genocide happened how many years ago? Over 100 years ago.

“After that, the South Africans took over. They were worse, and then Swapo started to fight to free the country,” Geingob said at a public lecture at the Paris Institute of Political Studies last week, discussing reconciliation between Germany and Namibia.

In response to this, political analyst Kae Matundu says apartheid and the genocide are incomparable.

“Apartheid was a political system, whereas the genocide was a human rights violation where thousands of people were killed,” Matundu says.

He says he cannot believe Geingob could make such a comparison.

“As descendants of our forebears who were genocided [sic], we have been demanding reparations, acknowledgement by the German government and atonement, yet our government has been pretending like it’s supporting us in this cause.

“For the president to say what he has been reported to have said is contradictory,” Matundu says.

He says the president’s remarks indicate that the government never believed in this cause all along.

“The president and his spokesperson have a duty to clarify the remarks made . . ,” he says.

Matundu refers to earlier this year, when the German chancellor Olaf Scholz visited South Africa and had a meeting with Geingob in that country.

“South Africa is just a few kilometres from here, so if the chancellor was serious about the issues pertaining to the genocide, he could have made a turn here to engage his Namibian counterparts,” he says.

He says the genocide was a human rights violation committed against a specific group of people.

“If the president and the chancellor were serious . . . they should have held consultative discussions with the people who were affected by the genocide, and not have held side meetings,” Matundu says.

According to him, the 2006 resolution outlines that the government’s role is only to facilitate dialogue and discussions towards an amicable resolution.

“I am aware of fellow descendants in Botswana who have approached the German government to air their voice, yet they were always advised to air their concerns through the Namibian government, as Germany is only in negotiation with the Namibian government,” Matundu says.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari last week said Geingob has played a significant role in advancing negotiations on the genocide issue, resulting in reparations exceeding €1 billion.

“There are those who were sitting on the other side, with apartheid oppressors, and, therefore, are not well placed to speak on questions of unity and justice.

“We cannot receive lessons about justice from them,” Hengari said.

He said Geingob discussed the topic of genocide reparations with Scholz during the 78th United Nations General Assembly.
Genocide activist Sima Luipert says the president’s remarks are unfortunate.

“I think the president does not quite understand the difference between genocide and apartheid colonialism,” Luipert says.

“I think the president has confirmed that his administration is not interested in the genocide matter,” she says.

She further says the current German chancellor has barely been involved in negotiations pertaining to reparations.

“To us it is not a surprise at all that Geingob would utter these insensitive remarks, because this is the same man who has failed to appreciate the struggle for the national unity and prosperity of Namibian people, and thus finds it easy to escape through the remarks he made to delegitimise the atrocious history of the Nama and Herero people,” Nama and Herero people in the diaspora said.

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