Namibia refuses to sign colonial reparations deal

Namibian officials refused on Monday to sign a deal under which Germany would pay reparations to its former colony for the massacre of the local Herero and Dama populations during the colonial era, which lasted from 1884 to 1915.

“I regret this,” said German Minister for Development and Cooperation Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.

A ministry spokesperson said the Namibian delegation accompanying President Hifikepunye Pohamba on a visit to Berlin said they needed to consult further with officials at home before signing the agreement.

“This was unexpected for us because the text had been agreed beforehand,” the spokesperson said.

The reparations Germany is offering amount to €20-million over a 10-year period beginning in 2006.

Wieczorek-Zeul last year expressed Germany’s regret for the Herero and Dama deaths during an event marking the centenary of the massacre.

After meeting with new German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, Pohamba defended his government’s policy of expropriating white-owned farms in the Southern African state.

“Our new constitutions allow the expropriation of land by the government in the interests of the public.”

Pohamba said the government amended the Constitution after it realised that buying land from farmers for the landless on a “willing seller, willing buyer” basis, a policy adopted in 1991, “was not working at the pace we wanted”.

The expropriation policy has caused controversy in Germany as some of the farmers who have been forced to leave their land were German citizens.—Sapa-AFP

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