Namibia on Friday said a 1.1 billion euro development budget offered by Germany as compensation for an early 20th century genocide by colonial troops was “not enough” but would be revisited as funding is rolled out.
The southern African country’s government started negotiations with its former coloniser Germany in 2015 over the 1904-1908 massacre of Herero and Nama people for rebelling against their rulers.
After years of back and forth, the parties reached a landmark agreement last week in which Germany officially recognised the killings as a genocide.
Berlin also offered 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in “development” funds to be paid over the next 30 years.
But many Namibians have rejected the outcome of the talks, claiming the offered amount is insulting and asking Germany to directly compensate victims in the form of “reparations” — a term Berlin has pointedly avoided.
Namibia’s Vice President Nangolo Mbumba on Friday admitted the offer was accepted despite being below an “initial quantum of reparations” submitted to Germany.
“We need to recognize that the amount of 1,100 billion euro… is not enough,” Mbumba said in an address to the nation, noting that financial compensation had been a major sticking point throughout the talks.
“However… Germany has agreed to commit to revisit and renegotiate the amount as the implementation of the reparations ensues,” he added.
Mbumba also presented a breakdown of the compensation package.
He explained that 1.05 billion euros would be spent on “reconstruction” projects to “assist the development” of the victims’ descendants — focusing mainly on renewable energy, vocational training and rural infrastructure.
The remaining 50 million euros will fund a “reconciliation programme” to preserve records of Namibia’s colonial past and support research into the topic.
Mbumba called on Namibians to “remain calm” and “think deeply” about their response to the deal.
“We have made remarkable progress over the past five years of negotiations and there is an opportunity we should not waste,” he added.
The agreement, which has yet to be signed, is being reviewed by Namibia’s Attorney General and will be presented to parliament for ratification next week.
In August 1904, German soldiers chased around 80,000 Herero into what is now known as the Kalahari Desert, raping women and slaughtering their captives.
Months later the German military commander general Lothar von Trotha ordered troops to exterminate both groups.
At least 60,000 Herero and around 10,000 Nama were killed, and thousands more sent to concentration camps.