Agreement with Namibia

Domestic political tensions and a possible escalation

The agreement between the German Federal Government and the Government of Namibia – found after Germany acknowledged the genocide crimes against the Herero and the Nama – has not yet been ratified. Originally, the Namibian parliament was supposed to ratify the agreement last Tuesday, September 7. Now, the vote was postponed to September 21. A representative of the Nama told the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) that the postponement could be a consequence of the protests in the country. Also, further political tensions could not be ruled out.

"Several associations of the Herero and the Nama planned to protest against the ratification in front of the parliament building in Windhoek. However, this was not possible as members of the Ministry of Defense and the special forces had already registered events – over a period of several days," stated Nadja Grossenbacher, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. Also, online meetings of the administrative unit concerned with the agreement were hacked: several unidentified users had repeatedly joined the meetings.

According to the STP's contact person, the government party SWAPO had probably postponed the ratification due to the strong criticism in the country. There are even initiatives to reopen the negotiations with Germany – but once again without including the traditional and officially acknowledged associations of the Herero and the Nama. However, the opposition parties in the parliament are in contact with them. "Some of the Herero and the Nama assume that the SWAPO government is trying to bring about further confrontation – an assumption that is also backed by the fact that the Ministry of Defense is now involved. Thus, the associations are trying to figure out possible ways to carry on with their peaceful protests, despite the scenario of intimidation," Grossenbacher explained. "If the agreement is ratified in its current wording, it is quite possible that this will lead to an excalation."

If the circulating reports are true, this would raise the question whether the Namibian state really is a legitimate negotiation partner for Germany, as Berlin claims.