It must be granted that Batswana and South Africans of Namibian descent are, historically and politically speaking, bona fide Namibian citizens. This is once the necessary legalities and/or political and diplomatic essentials among the respective three neighbouring countries have been completed, thus paving the way for the repatriation, of those who would voluntarily wish to return to their motherland, or fatherland.
This is with reference to the now long talked about repatriation from Botswana. This has been on the agenda for close to three years now but yet to happen. One understands as far as the necessary bureaucratic imperatives are concerned regarding their registration; the Botswana government has completed this. What remains is just their repatriation, which means Namibian must also be ready to receive them. When motivating his budget in the National Assembly earlier this year, Land Reform Minister, Utoni Nujoma, referred to the repatriation and for the ministry to ready for such. But respecting and recognising the choice and right of those opting for voluntary repatriation, nevertheless something has been seeming odd in the whole repatriation process. This is not the first repatriation process of Batswana of Namibian descents. The first major repatriation post-independence was in 1993. Most of these repatriates are forth generations of their forebears who survived genocide and who eventually found asylum in Botswana and South Africa where the current generations have been born and are thus also citizens of these two neighbouring countries.
The bulk of the repatriates hitherto, if not all of them, have been received in the Ngam and Eiseb Block areas of Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions respectively. Emphasis is hereby on the received as opposed to re-settled because since the return, these repatriates have been desirous of a proper resettlement. The reception centres are currently part of the logistics the ministry has been busy with. Reception centres until when if the experience of those currently in Gam and Eiseb are anything to go by? Who are essentially still in reception centres, 25 years after their repatriation. That this reception has not been the ideal place for their cattle as a predominantly cattle-herding community, especially for those in Gam, is born out by their invasion and intrusion of the Tsumkwe Conservancy from where and when their cattle were eventually impounded by the government. To this day some of this people remain there in Tsumkwe, basically a landless people with their animals equally without grazing.
As much those who have remained in Ngam, and Eiseb, have at no point ever felt that they have been properly resettled. In fact, their understanding has been that the two communal areas would only be temporary until and when the government was in a position to resettle them. Meaning that with every resettlement farm that the government has been buying, they should have received priority and preferential treatment to give actual meaning to words like land dispossessed and re-settlement. This essential means that those who are dispossessed of land are those with ancestral land claims, and should have received preferential treatment in the government’s resettlement programme.
This has not been the case. Some of those repatriated previously are literally in the wilderness of the Kalahari Desert of Eiseb. An area of which they cannot have fond memories, being the very area whose worse conditions their forebears had to brave, and in which most succumbed while retreating from the genocidal wars unleashed against them by Germany of the times. This is why it is not only incomprehensible, while those who have been already repatriated donkey years ago now, have not been resettled yet, and are still in and at reception centres, the government should contemplate more repatriations? And strangely leaders of these people in Namibia, without an exception, seem to in agreement with the latest repatriation exercise notwithstanding that those repatriated already are in corridors. And as much not much seem to be in place logistically in terms of where these repatriates may be resettled other than Gam and Eiseb, the very places which have proven inhabitable for the previous repatriates and their animals.
Something certainly must be amiss why both the government, and traditional leaders of these repatriates in Namibia would at this stage and under these circumstances, let alone agree to and push for such. Of course with due respect to the wish and right of the repatriates, and indeed their own urgency for repatriation, one can give them the benefit of the doubt. But on the face it, one cannot see the urgency now. Except for them becoming just another number in the seeming ongoing battle for numbers between the various traditional leaders.