Namibia accused of hypocrisy on condemning Germany


Former Namibian president Hage Geingob

from ALFRED SHILONGO in Windhoek, Namibia
Namibia Bureau
WINDHOEK, (CAJ News) – TO many, Namibia’s condemnation of Germany after it pledged to back Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the genocide case filed by South Africa is a show of solidarity with Palestine and other victims of ethnic cleansing.

Yet in its own backyard, the Namibian government’s attack on its former coloniser’s pro-Israel stance at the case in The Hague has brought condemnation and accusations of double standards, leveled against it by descendents of victims of genocide that Germany perpetrated at the advent of the 20th century.

The Herero (or Ovaherero) and the Nama were the victims of colonial Germany’s campaign of ethnic extermination and collective punishment in the then German South West Africa. Between 1904 and 1908, estimates suggest more than 100 000 locals were killed.

Namibia became a German colony in 1884. It gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990.

In the latest twist to how the Israel-Hamas is dividing countries since it intensified in October, Germany and Namibia made international headlines after the ex-coloniser revealed it would back Israel in the genocide case lodged against it by South Africa at the end of December, and whose hearings the ICJ began and adjourned last week.

Angered at Germany’s decision, Namibia reminded the European nation of the atrocities it committed against the Herero and Nama, in what is documented as the first genocide of the 20th century.

President Hage Geingob led the attacks.

“Namibia rejects Germany’s support of the genocidal intent of the racist Israeli state against innocent civilians in Gaza,” his office stated.

The Presidency said the German government was yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on the Namibian soil .

Therefore, in light of Germany’s inability to draw lessons from its “horrific”, Geingob expressed deep concern with the “shocking” decision to reject the “morally upright” indictment brought forward by South Africa before the ICJ, of Israel committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Geingob added that Germany could not morally express commitment to the United Nations Convention against genocide, including atonement for the genocide in Namibia, whilst supporting the equivalent of a holocaust and genocide in Gaza.

He reiterated that, “No peace-loving human being can ignore the carnage waged against Palestinians in Gaza.”

Therefore, the president appealed to the German government to reconsider its decision to intervene as a third-party in defence and support of Israel before the ICJ.

Namibia is the latest country to back South Africa, after Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Jorban and Malaysia issued Declarations of Intervention at the Court supporting South Africa.

Exiled former Zimbabwe minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, praised Geingob and Namibia for principled leadership by condemning Germany.

“You are making Africa proud, Your Excellency President (Geingob),” Prof Moyo commended Windhoek.

Bahraini human rights activist and opposition leader, Nabeel Rajab, admired what he believes is a clear and frank humanitarian stance taken by Namibia.

“This war has revealed to us who are the true advocates of justice and human rights and who were acting,” Rajab said.

He argued that many people are not surprised by the rapprochement between “two countries that have a bloody past and have committed many massacres and genocides throughout history.”

“Once again, thank you and your esteemed country,” Rajab praised Geingob and Namibia.

Yet in Namibia, some organisations representing the Herero and Nama are outraged, accusing the government in the Southern African country of double standards by condemning the genocide but violating their rights.

These are the Nama Traditional Leaders Association and Ovaherero Traditional Authority who reacted strongly to the statement by the government.

In a strange twist of events, these organisations have praised South Africa for lodging the genocide case against Germany but condemned Namibia for criticizing Israel.

This would appear contradictory as Germany and South Africa are on the same side of the genocide case.

However, the leaders of the indigenous people believe South Africa has been consistent with its stance on genocide, unlike their own government.

“South Africa is today a great source of hope to us who are denied justice for the total obliteration of our then sovereign countries of Ehi Ovaherero and Great Namaqualand,” they stated.

The leaders believe South Africa has amplified the voice of their call for justice against genocide.

“It is our sincerest hope that South Africa serves as a blueprint and a benchmark for us all to decide that we will fight for the oppressed, battered and abused.”

The Nama Traditional Leaders Association and Ovaherero Traditional Authority accused Namibia of playing an adverse role in the case of the Nama and Herero people to achieve justice.

Thus, their government is allegedly complicit in the lack of justice.

“The same Namibia which now condemns Israel and Germany has denied the Ovaherero and Nama meaningful participation rights in negotiations about genocide with Germany,” they stated.

“The same Namibia agrees with Germany that the genocide committed against the Nama and Ovaherero people can only be considered as ‘genocide from today’s perspective. The implication of this view by Germany and Namibia is that it was not genocide at the time it was committed.”

The indigenous groups noted that some Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations (UN) argued the two countries had by the so-called state-to-state bilateral talks were violating the same UN Convention South Africa is seeking the prosecution of Israel.

“The same Namibia which now condemns Israel and Germany, silences the Nama and Ovaherero through a misplaced and illegal notion of state-state bilateral talks. This is hypocrisy at its highest level,” the Nama and Ovaherero traditional leadership fumed.

“It is also interesting that the Namibian government which refuses to take the Government of Germany for genocide against its own citizens now condemns Germany on genocide committed by Israel.”

Rodney Cloete, the local activist, argued the Namibian government’s stance was tantamount to grandstanding and hypocrisy.

“The descendants of the Nama (and) Herero genocide always had clarity,” he said.

In 2020, Germany acknowledged committing genocide during its colonial occupation of Namibia, and announced financial aid worth more than €1,1 billion.

It was revealed this would be paid out over 30 years in the form of infrastructure and healthcare projects and training programmes targeting affected communities.

– CAJ News

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