“Botswana is indirectly provoking Namibia” concludes Williams Sheende, a good friend.
The recent barbaric gunning down of four Namibians by the Botswanan Defence Force (BDF) is indeed an act of provocation which creates the potential for further escalation in terms of disturbing the relations between the two neighbouring states, namely Namibia and Botswana.
These recent extra judiciary killings invoke nothing but animosity, disturbance of good neighbourliness, regional stability and equilibrium within the African context. For too long, Africans have this propensity of silent diplomacy, whilst the situation on the ground calls that the countries be called out.
Namibia must have the guts to call out Botswana for what she is and remind her that such ugly incidents believed to have caused 30 human lives, stretching as far as 1990s, are internationally wrongful acts for which she is liable as these acts were carried out directly with the sanctions of the State, through its organs and or agents- the police and or armed forces of that country.
Botswana, as a member state of SADC as well as international community, must be told that a human life lost is one too many.
This unfortunate incident happened at what one would term as “no man’s land” in the vicinity of the then disputed Kasikili Island, to which Namibia and Botswana had each a claim, until the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the island belong to Botswana.
In the communal context, people who live in the vicinity of either side of the border, naturally cross this artificial border, to enjoy among other things, what is characterised as free movement, resources within their immediate reach and disposal.
For decades and by crossing artificial borders, these people have shared common resources such rivers and including the aqua life within them.
In the latest incident, the eye witness to these latest horrific acts has confirmed that the deceased were murdered whilst fishing, the normal practice the communal people have been carrying for ages from one generation to the next.
Available evidence suggests that these unarmed fishermen were shot point blankly, the possibility that they had surrendered and the only option for the perpetrators would have been to detain them and bring them to justice.
The justification for this killing as per that country’s authorities was that Botswana has been suffering from the spites of poaching involving mainly its rhinos and elephants, so hence their quick reaction of being trigger happy to the so-called “shoot to kill” policy.
One of the important obligations of the member states under the SADC Treaty as well as well International Law, is an observance of human rights and rule of law for which all member states are signatories.
The SADC Treaty further obligates member states to observe the principles such as meaningful cooperation and good neighbourliness among others.
It is therefore unfortunate that this “shoot to kill” policy goes against Article 33 (a) and (b) of the SADC Treaty. In fact as a remedy, this treaty calls for sanctions against the member state which fails its obligations assumed under such as a treaty and especially against the member state which implements the policies which undermine principles and objectives of SADC.
It is so unpractical that Africans are quick to ratify agreements like the SADC Treaty and yet they are reluctant at observing, respecting and implementing them.
It is high time that Botswana starts to have self-respect and also the respect of her neighbours, as these incidences are not in congruence with humanness.
Her acts are really a farce as they serve as a contradiction to both communal and pre-emptory norms that regulate the human conduct.
It is for this reason that Botswana has an obligation to the international community including Namibia to cease these internationally wrongful acts immediately.