Botswana Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi says her country will remain indebted to Namibia for the peaceful resolution of the dispute over the islands that Namibia calls Kasikili and the Tswanas call Sedudu.
Soon after Namibia’s independence, a dispute flared up with Botswana over the ownership of the islands in the Chobe river.
After exhausting existing channels, the two southern neighbours took the dispute to the International Court of Justice for determination. In December 1999, the court awarded the islands to Botswana, a decision that Namibia respected.
Venson-Moitoi said the two countries chose a peaceful resolution to a potentially explosive problem, which is in the spirit of unity and collaboration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“We spoke. Everybody thought we are going to fight. It took years, but we spoke, and we argued. But nobody spoke behind anybody’s back. We spoke frankly, we spoke honestly and we shared. “And when we could no longer speak, just the two of us, we invited other people we trusted. That’s how we work in SADC. We trust and we speak openly and that’s how peace is built,” she said.
“In other parts of the world, it is easy to fight over a Sedudu. It is very easy, but look at what we have achieved. This is something we believe in Botswana, and will forever remain grateful. “We will forever remain indebted to Namibia, for the peaceful manner in which we were able to talk as sister countries to solve what could have turned into a potentially explosive situation. That’s how countries should work, and that’s how we are.”
In addition, the minister said she is thankful to the Namibian Government for publicly backing her campaign for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).
Recently, the Namibian Cabinet formally endorsed the candidacy of Venson-Moitoi, after the regional bloc nominated her in April 2016 to represent Southern Africa in her contention for the AUC top post.
“Seeing sister countries like Namibia going as far as you have gone and for this you can’t imagine how grateful I am, how gratified I have been to see the extra mile that the Namibian Cabinet have gone.
“I am very grateful to the Namibian Government and particularly to President Hage Geingob for where he has gone that additional extra mile, and this will obviously give an extra boost to the campaign.”
African heads of state and government during the AU’s 27th ordinary assembly will elect the new AUC chairperson to replace the incumbent Dr Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma.
The summit is scheduled from July 10-18, 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. Venson-Moitoi is competing against Dr Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe from Uganda, representing East Africa, while Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy represents the Central African region.