Namibia and Botswana last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will enable Impalila Island and Kasika residents in the Zambezi region to use border passes to enter Botswana.
Impalila Island and Kasika village residents who mainly rely on Botswana for their basic needs usually cross into that country on a daily basis but the requirements for passports and the requisite routine paperwork more often than not constrains their movements.
Impalila Island and Kasika village are located on the far eastern periphery of the Zambezi region, which is surrounded by the Zambezi and Chobe rivers and separating the three countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
The agreement was signed last week during the 28th session of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security held in Botswana, where delegates from both countries resolved on various issues of defence and security disturbing peace and stability, and the livelihood of citizens.
To enter Botswana, Impalila and Kasika residents required a passport, which comes at an exorbitant cost. Thus, the MoU resolved to facilitate the movement of the inhabitants to cross the border without a passport but rather to use border passes, which are cost-effective.
The new arrangement extends the inhabitants’ time in Botswana to six months and penetration into that country within a radius of 20km.
This is the same arrangement Namibia endorsed with Angola and Zambia on cross-border movements, especially for communities living along the borders, with constant movement between these countries.
Defence minister Penda ya Ndakolo and his Botswana counterpart, Thomas Kagiso Mmusi, signed the MoU at the conclusion of the 28th session of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security, which also reviewed the preceding session and discussed cross-border issues of mutual concern.
While commending the excellent bilateral cooperation in the area of defence, public and state security, which bears on peaceful coexistence and the successful implementation of various shared decisions, the 28th session noted with concern among other challenges the advent of cybercrime and an escalation in poaching along the common borders.
Thus, the commission undertook to remain resilient and robust in the fight against crime through collaboration at a multi-sectoral level. “Botswana and Namibia will continue to cooperate and collaborate in critical areas of defence and security,” the permanent secretary of Botswana’s Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Matshidiso Bokole, noted.
Equally, Bokole said there is concrete evidence that criminals have resorted to cyberspace to advance their illegal motives.
She added that the two countries must be alert to the ways through which criminals exploit technology. “It is therefore incumbent upon us to do all we can to mitigate their efforts, reverse their gains and remain steps ahead. We can only be successful if we continue working together,” she said.
The commission was implored to devise new strategies and review resolutions to ensure robustness and resilience in response to preventing and combating transnational organised crime.
Meanwhile, Peter Vilho, the executive director of defence, said the people and governments of Botswana and Namibia have both met economic and legal challenges since the last session was held in Windhoek in 2018.
“Despite the economic downturn and drought, we managed to improvise and prioritise where we could. I am impressed by the progress made on the border affirmation and demarcation process. I am equally heartened by the continuous efforts of the public security officers in ensuring the safety and security of our peoples,” Vilho said.