The Botswana Defence Force (BDF), which has been criticised for allegedly being trigger-happy and been accused of killing more than 30 Namibians in the Zambezi region, has agreed to stop its harassment of locals living alongside the Chobe River.
International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah this week briefed the National Assembly following her meeting in Kasane with her counterpart, Botswana’s minister of foreign affairs, Lemogang Kwape.
The joint meeting took place from 2 to 3 September.
On 5 November last year, three brothers and a cousin were gunned down along the Chobe River by members of the BDF.
The killing of the three brothers, Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44) stirred anger amongst Namibians, and necessitated the joint meeting for the two countries to look at how they can share the river without dissonance.
During the joint visit, Namibia underscored the need for communities living along the common border to have access to natural resources, which they depend on for their livelihoods, without fear and continuous intimidation by the BDF. Botswana agreed to the sentiments expressed by Namibia, adding that people were enjoined by blood.
“I wish to inform this August House that during the joint visit, I expressed the concerns of the Namibian people with regard to access to the shared resources along the common river border, as well as the desire for peaceful co-existence, which is currently under threat due to the continuous harassment/intimidation and recurring shootings by the BDF,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told lawmakers on Wednesday.
The joint visit was also aimed at engaging communities on the significance of peaceful co-existence, in addition to having good relations as neighbours along the common riverine border of the Chobe River.
“It is for this reason that during the joint visit, we reaffirmed the continuous enjoyment by nationals of both countries of equal access and treatment to the shared natural resources along the common river boundary,” she added. Prior to meeting her Botswana counterpart, the Namibian delegation undertook a familiarisation visit to the border area in Zambezi from 12 to 15 May 2021. Her Botswana counterpart also paid a similar visit on the Botswana side.
“During the familiarisation visit to the Zambezi region, I held engagements with various stakeholders, such as the traditional authority leaders, tourism operators and community activists. Their valuable input informed my engagement with my Botswana counterpart,” the politician stated.