CHINCHIMANI – The leader of the Mafwe Traditional Authority, chief George Simasiku-Mamili VII has called on the government to nullify the 2018 border treaty it signed with neighbouring Botswana.
Mamili made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf during a media briefing on Sunday, which was held to mark the commemoration of the 22nd Lusata Cultural festival. According to Mamili, emerging sentiments from the affected communities have clearly demonstrated that there is a need for the treaty to be set aside.
“In conformity with the dictum of government for the people by the people, I trust that views expressed by the majority inhabitants of the Zambezi region, shall and will not be ignored,” said Mamili.
He added that too many lives have been lost at the hands of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), and there is no justification for the inhabitants to be robbed of their ancestral land.
“I encourage government to be magnanimous and acknowledge that there were serious missteps during the consultations process. Certainly, there is no wisdom in further alienating the aggrieved communities in the Zambezi region, by incessantly defending a defective and unpopular treaty,” he stated.
At the same occasion, the traditional leader once again called on his followers to maintain peace, law and order, and refrain from engaging in unlawful activities like poaching, cattle theft and smuggling of cattle from neighbouring Zambia.
The border treaty, which was signed by President Hage Geingob and his Botswana counterpart at the time, Ian Khama, in 2018 has been a bone of contention in recent years.
In May this year, government refuted widespread allegations that no consultation took place with the Zambezi inhabitants regarding the signed border treaty.
Safety and security minister Albert Kawana defended the government’s position that from the beginning to the end, the process was transparent and in line with the letter and spirit of the Namibian constitution.
Kawana also said in May before the conclusion of the border treaty, the Namibian government and that of Botswana agreed to numerous terms of references including establishing a joint commission of technical experts on the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary between Botswana and Namibia along the Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe river, signed by the contracting parties on 24 November 1999.
The main purpose of the joint commission was to delimit and demarcate the boundary between Botswana and Namibia along the three rivers in terms of the Anglo-German Agreement of 1 July 1890.
Before the inaugural meeting of the joint commission of technical experts, Kawana noted consultation meetings were held with the then three traditional authorities, which were then in existence, namely the Masubia, the Mafwe and the Mayeyi.
“The involvement of the traditional authorities was also coordinated with the honourable governor of Zambezi (then Caprivi region), Bernard Songa Sibalatani. In contrast with the boundary along the Zambezi River, which was properly delimited and then demarcated around 1933, the Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe river boundary was not demarcated. The demarcation of the Zambezi River boundary identified 33 islands,” Kawana explained at the time.
In compliance with the constitutional requirements, the National Assembly on 12 June 2018 unanimously agreed to the ratification of the boundary treaty.