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Zed will achieve zero

13 November 2015

The recent appointment by the Geingob administration of veteran politician and former Director General of the National Planning Commission Dr Zed Ngavirue as special Namibian envoy on genocide leaves us unconvinced about the seriousness of government’s commitment to obtaining reparations for the Herero and Nama people from the German government. 


While the elderly Dr. Ngavirue is a distinguished gentleman and long-time supporter of the ruling party and its leadership, he does not have the political ear of the president, the physical stamina, the political power and diplomatic skills necessary to achieve the vaunted goals which his appointment (at least on the surface) claims as a priority. 

With no insult meant to Dr Ngavirue, we believe that his new position is a fake panacea, a red-herring, a scapegoat or at best, a deflection and distraction for Namibian citizens still affected by the genocide.

The central issues that must be moved forward remain the official recognition of the genocide by Germany and the demand for a dialogue from the side of Namibian victim groups, which will lead to material compensation.

Clear demands have been made by the Namibian nation affected by the 1904 genocide and those will not be answered by Dr. Ngavirue’s unimpressive embassy and weak standing, no matter how noble his intentions.

Here is the predictable scenario:  After several well-advertised meetings with his German counter-part, multiple trips to Germany for ‘consultations’ and possible release of more sacred artefacts held by the Germans and handshakes before cameras, several hundred pages of research reports and documentation which will take a year or two to compile and digest will be submitted and the position of the Namibian and German governments will be no different on the issue, than it is right now.

In other words, with this appointment, the plan for inertia and inaction on this matter has been revealed.

When the inevitable stagnation on the issue of reparations is again placed before this administration, fingers will immediately be pointed at Dr Ngavirue and his team as evidence that ‘something is being done’ or worse, the reason that what was being done, did not succeed. 

We understand that the president was recommended to choose between the very senior, skilled, internationally lauded and consummate diplomat, the former Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab and Dr Ngavirue for this post.

If further evidence of the weak commitment of this administration to a viable solution on the genocide issue is needed, this final choice of envoy is it.

We would ask if Dr Ngavirue has the authority to select and appoint his own delegation for the upcoming talks.  If so, we’d like to see him appoint the former MP and Cabinet Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo or the Chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee and former Parliamentarian, Ida Hoffman as members of his delegation. Now, this kind of complete delegation would make a weak envoy deliver a strong outcome.

Our critique of Dr Ngavirue’s appointment as envoy on genocide is not meant to demean his character, it is meant to ‘call out’ the administration on their lack of commitment to a dedicated, aggressive and meaningful plan to obtain the apology, dialogue and the reparations. 

We are watching and sincerely hope our predictions will not bear fruit, though we believe we are spot on.


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