Namibia/Botswana treaty to end deadly border incidences

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The Minister of Defence Penda ya Ndakolo has assured the nation that the signed historic Boundary Treaty will see an end to previous deadly border disputes between Namibia and Botswana, which left several Namibians shot dead by Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers on suspicion they went into that country to poach.
Botswana has a shoot-to-kill policy regarding poachers found on its territory.

This shoot-to-kill policy raised grave concerns among Namibians who said the government was not doing enough to address the fatal shootings, especially during 2015 when most killings took place.
During 2015, some Namibians suspected of being ivory poachers were shot and killed close to the Botswana border by the BDF.

Therefore, Namibia took a decision to actively engage Botswana to find common ground on the fatal shooting of several Namibian citizens along the border by members of the BDF.

This week Namibian President Hage Geingob and his Botswana counterpart, Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who was in Namibia on a two-day state visit, signed the historic Boundary Treaty which clearly marks the borders between the two countries.

“To us, we hope these shootings will not happen anymore as we were assured by His Excellency, the President of Botswana. We have a permanent commission on defence and security issues between Namibia and Botswana. Last year, we held it in Botswana and this year we will have it here in Namibia.

If there is anything, we will discuss it – but we are sure that [the shootings] is in the past according to my understanding,” Ya Ndakolo told New Era.

President Khama said the signed treaty is to reaffirm a common boundary and to cooperate on trans-boundary issues.
In the past, Khama said, the wrangling was along the northern border of the Zambezi region where there are a lot of wetlands.

“But it was never really clear to either party where the border of the flat plains of the river is. So that’s why this reaffirmation hopes to remove any doubt and mark the border so that people who commonly operate in those areas –be it members of the security forces or the general population – will know where the border lies. So that is now something of the past and I think it’s a positive step in the right direction,” Khama said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, on Tuesday said the significance of the treaty is that boundaries are now clearly marked to avoid any contravention.

“The issue of the shooting at the border has been resolved. The two ministers of international relations have engaged and that is why you have not heard of any incident. But if everyone knows that this is where the border stops, then at least you can’t blame others that you didn’t know because it’s clearly demarcated,” she said.
Moreover, she said the African Union (AU) has a border programme in place to deal with border dispute resolutions to ensure confidence-building between nations.

She urged Namibians to familiarize themselves with the Boundary Treaty once it’s made available.
“It’s a historic treaty and the AU played a significant role in finalizing this treaty,” she noted.

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