Namibian president Hage Geingob. File picture: Alan Taylor

Gaborone - The German government has offered to apologise but declined to pay reparations for the killing of thousands of Namibians by its colonial army during an uprising between 1904 and 1907.

The killings have been described as a genocide by global human rights organisations, although the German government has consistently referred to them as “historical events”.

In an interview with French news agency AFP on Wednesday, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chelbi said they were working with Namibia towards a joint declaration that would include an apology for the killings.

“We are working towards a joint government declaration with the following elements: common discussions on the historical events and a German apology for the action in Namibia.

“On the question of whether there could be reparations or legal consequences, there are none. The apology does not come with any consequences on how we deal with the history and portray it,” Chelbi was quoted as saying.

However, she said the declaration would be used as the basis of a joint parliamentary resolution on the matter. Last week, German ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga said the country was considering sponsoring developmental projects in Northern Namibia where the descendants of the Nama and Herero victims still live.

Meanwhile, Namibian President Hage Geingob has called on Germany to drop demands that negotiations for the settlement of the long-standing genocide issue between the two countries must be concluded before elections due in 2017.

Geingob has said he takes “serious exception” to the demand and called on the German government to show respect and courtesy to Namibia in negotiating a settlement for the genocide problem.