The continuing killing of Namibians by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is undermining security in the Zambezi region. Emotions are now high in the region as there is a perception that the Namibian government is not doing enough to protect Namibians from the atrocious killings by trigger-happy soldiers of the BDF.
The Zambezi region is politically volatile and the actions of the BDF have the potential to contribute to making the people in the region turn against their government. The BDF has now created insecurity for the people living in the region, especially those along the Chobe river. The people in the Zambezi region largely live off subsistence farming, fishing and hunting. Most villages are situated along the riverbanks of the Zambezi and the Chobe. The continued harassment and killing of Namibians in the region by the BDF has now created personal insecurity and safety concerns.
It should be mentioned that apartheid South Africa found the Zambezi region that borders Botswana and Zambia of military importance. The region is also fairly important geographically and politically. Since independence in 1990 about 30 Namibians have been killed by the BDF as alleged poachers – hogwash! Who in his/her right mind will believe this? One Namibian life lost is one too many! As a nation we cannot and should not allow this to continue without taking noticeable action, not negotiations only. The Namibian government has been engaging the Botswana government on the killing of Namibians by the BDF since 2015, or earlier, to find a solution, but without success as the carnage continues unabated. Our eastern neighbour will only listen to us if we deploy the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) along the Chobe river where these killings continue relentlessly.
The NDF should conduct aggressive patrols along the Chobe river border between Namibia and Botswana to prevent further loss of innocent Namibians. No one country can claim the sole ownership of this river. Namibians living along the Chobe river depend on it for their livelihood. They have been fishing in that river since time immemorial. When the apartheid South African Defence Force (SADF) was in the Zambezi region, no Namibian was shot and killed by the Botswana security forces for fishing in the river. The SADF served as a deterrent force that is why Botswana security forces did not attempt to harass or kill Namibians during that time.
Yes, diplomatic efforts between Namibia and Botswana on the latest killings of Namibians along the Chobe river are underway, but this should not stop us from deploying the NDF. The primary role of the NDF is to protect the territorial integrity of the country and its citizens.