CW 33/2020: Political Reappraisal
Press Review 8 August 2020 to 14 August 2020

German-Namibian negotiations on trial

On Tuesday, the Namibian government rejected the German government’s current compensation offer for the genocide of Herero and Nama. In an official statement, Namibian President Hage Geingob called the current proposal of the German government on compensation payments unacceptable. The terminology of compensation is considered another point of contention in the negotiations. While Germany rejects the term reparations, the Namibian government feels that the term healing of wounds, favoured by the German side, is insufficient. At the same time, Geingob expressed his satisfaction with the general progress of the negotiations, which have been ongoing since 2015, and instructed his Special Representative Dr. Zed Ngavirue to continue the negotiations with the aim of a revised offer. The statement led to national and international speculation and strong criticism on the alleged amount of the payments – according to a speech given by Geingob in June, the amount was set  at only ten million euros. However, according to Ruprecht Polenz, the Federal Government’s special representative in the dialogue on the genocide of the Herero and Nama, no exact amounts have yet been mentioned in the talks. In fact, observers assume a much higher sum. The compensation package is to include various projects in the fields of infrastructure, education and health care, particularly in the regions which are today mainly inhabited by the descendants of the Herero and Nama. Furthermore, an unconditional apology is expected from Germany for the colonial crimes committed against the Herero and Nama.


New government in Mauritania

Following the investigation of a corruption scandal in Mauritania, Prime Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Sidiya resigned last week along with his entire cabinet. Only a few hours later, President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani appointed a new Prime Minister: Mohamed Ould Bilal. Bilal who is well known in the North-West African country, has served as head of the national water authority, as advisor to the President and as Cabinet Minister. On Sunday, the new cabinet, which has now been reduced to 22 ministries, was announced. Although it does not contain many new faces, as 18 of the old ministers have been reappointed, the six former officials associated with the corruption scandal were not included to clear the way for further investigation. The revelations so far stem from a report by a parliamentary committee which was given the task of examining aspects of the term of office of former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz earlier this year. He came to power in 2008 in a military coup and ruled the country for a total of eleven years after winning two elections. Ghazouani’s inauguration last August marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the largely desert-like country since independence from France in 1960. Soon after taking office, Ghazouani initiated a review of the previous government’s actions. The scandal that has now been uncovered involved deals concerning oil revenues, the sale of state property in Nouakchott and the liquidation of a state-owned food company.


In other news

In the course of the growing protest movements against racism, demands for the removal of colonial symbols are increasing. The Beninese coastal town of Oudiah is taking a different direction. As part of a project to promote tourism, Ouidah is restoring places from the time of the transatlantic slave trade and thus wants to expand its culture of remembrance. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Ouidah was the main port of the region, from which about one million people were shipped across the Atlantic. Part of the more than one billion dollar project is also the renovation of the former Ouidah fortress, which now houses a history museum.

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