International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah will this month meet her Botswana counterpart Lemogang Kwape to mend seemingly broken relations between the two countries due to continuous border conflicts.
Botswana and Namibia have previously engaged in a diplomatic spat after Botswana Defence Force (BDF) anti-poaching teams gunned down a considerable number of Namibian nationals they accused of poaching.
To date, over 30 Namibians have been killed by BDF along the mutual borders.
To protect its border, Namibia increased the presence of defence and security personnel in the Zambezi region in March.
This aims to safeguard the territorial interest and integrity of Namibia, following the shooting and killing of four fishermen along the Chobe River in the Zambezi region by BDF last year.
The killing of three Namibian brothers – Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36) – and their Zambian cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44), provoked public outcry and international headlines almost triggering a diplomatic row between the two neighbours.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, President Hage Geingob – who described the matter as “deeply regrettable” – have since agreed to allow a joint investigation into the incident.
Its findings, however, were never made public.
In an interview with New Era, international relations executive director Penda Naanda said there would be a joint visit between Nandi-Ndaitwah, and her counterpart in Botswana.
According to him, the proposed visit is scheduled to take place this month and Namibia has submitted proposed dates to Botswana and is waiting for their response. “The two countries have agreed that conditions must be created to ensure good neighbourliness and for our people living along our common borders to live in harmony,” Naanda said.
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) lawmaker Geoffrey Mwilima in a statement on Tuesday said Namibia has also lost large tracts of land to Botswana.
Mwilima’s statement comes as a direct response to news that Namibia and Botswana have entered into a boundary treaty that involves demarcating the southern boundary line of the Caprivi Strip in the Zambezi region.
The treaty was struck in 2018, according to reports.
“This is a treaty that shows the nature of the relationship between Namibia and Botswana. The consequences of this treaty demonstrate to us that Botswana had a clear intention to steal our land for its people and that the Swapo government did not have regard for the people of this region,” said Mwilima.
The deal, which is shrouded in secrecy, has irked several pressure groups in the Zambezi, including Mwilima, who hails from that region.
“Just when we are about to get used to the fact that the Namibian government and our son [Albert Kawana] sold us out by losing our Kasikili Island to Botswana, we are hit with this treaty that gives away huge parts of Stungu village,” he laments.
The politician also painted a picture of a destitute Zambezi region, saying no community or region in the country has been left helpless and undefended against foreign powers like the Zambezi.
“In the central and northern regions, the rights of Namibians to enjoy their family relations with those across the borders are guaranteed with free flow of people, so much so that there are agreements for their families to obtain free medical treatment in Namibia, but the same cannot be said about the Zambezi,” he added.
“If this government was so good in negotiating for the rights of those compatriots, why is it consistently weak when it comes to negotiating the rights of people of the Zambezi region? Who will protect this region? Who will save our lives?” Mwilima asked.
Last week, defence minister Frans Kapofi said he is in contact with his counterpart in Botswana to urgently deal with the draconian use of force by that country’s army against Namibians living along the border of the two countries.
– Additional reporting: Nampa