The Zambezi Regional Council and Botswana’s Chobe district council have been urged to enter into a twinning agreement which will, among others, enhance cooperation between the two neighbouring countries, international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told parliament last week.
She said this while responding to questions in parliament on what measures have been agreed to by Namibia and Botswana to prevent further violence against Namibian citizens in the Zambezi region by Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
Nandi-Ndaitwah met with her Botswana counterpart Lemogang Kwape in Kasane in the Zambezi region earlier last month to encourage communities living along the Chobe River to foster peaceful coexistence and fruitful cooperation.
She said the two governments also agreed to escalate cross-border safety and security to be decided at the Inaugural Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC), to be chaired by President Hage Geingob and his counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said this will further cement the desire to continue sharing and protecting shared natural resources to ensure cross-border safety and security of people along the common border.
She said during the joint visit, she expressed concerns of the Namibian people with regard to access to the shared resources along the common riverine border, as well as the desire for peaceful co-existence, which is currently under threat due to the continuous harassment/intimidation and recurring shootings by the BDF.
She said her and Kwape reiterated that the people of Chobe district and Zambezi region share blood relations which will continue to exist for centuries to come and are only separated by the Chobe River.
“They share resources such as, fish, water, reeds, grazing land, which they depend on for their livelihood,” she said. Nandi-Ndaitwah said they also re-affirmed the continued enjoyment by nationals of both countries of equal access and treatment to the shared natural resources along the common riverine boundary, which has been codified regionally within the framework of the Revised SADC Protocol on Shared Watercourses (2002) and supported by international law (United Nations Convention on the Law of International Watercourses of 1997) and the 13 December 1999 judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), with respect to the Kasikili/Sedudu Island case.
Kasikili/Sedudu Island case ruled that Kasikili/Sedudu Island forms part of Botswana and that nationals of both countries should continue to enjoy equal access and treatment to shared natural resources in the two channels around Kasikili/Sedudu Island.