7 November 2018

Namibia: Over 1,500 to Be Repatriated From Botswana

Windhoek — The Namibian inter-ministerial committee tasked to facilitate the repatriation process of over 1,500 Batswana of Namibian descent who have shown willingness to return to their native country, visited Botswana last week.

The committee, consisting of a number of various ministries, including those of land reform, agriculture and home affairs, is being led by Land Reform Permanent Secretary Peter Amutenya.

The committee visited Charles Hill in Ghanzi District and Tsau in North-West District of Botswana, where most of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu - who fled the 1904 genocidal wrath - live, to share information on the repatriation process.

Accompanied by the Namibia high commissioner in that country, Mbapeua Muvangua, the local media quoted Amutenya as saying they came to Botswana because they lacked critical statistical information on some issues which could assist in preparations of the repatriation exercise. According to the media reports, Amutenya said the initial information they had was that 947 people would be relocated but later learnt that over 1 000 people had registered.

"We were informed that 14 816 cattle, 48 879 goats, 1 300 donkeys and 684 horses will also be relocated, but with cats, chicken and dogs the numbers were not indicated," he added.

He said as the committee, they realised that there were some gaps on availability of the information since the relevant authorities did not indicate where the animals come from, and whether they are located in disease-free areas.

Amutenya also pointed out that they did not have sufficient information with regard to school-going children as it was not indicated which grades they were in, sex and ages.

He also informed the Botswana leadership that the government of Namibia had resolved to implement the repatriation exercise over a period of three years.

He said they started this year April and the exercise would run until 2021, adding that it would be undertaken in stages as they would not manage to relocate the whole group once the said piece of land has been secured to accommodate those repatriated.

During the committee's visit, its members also met with North-West District chairperson Duncan Enga and District Commissioner, Keolopile Leipego.

Local media quoted Enga as saying that it was befitting for the Botswana government to facilitate the exercise so that returnees' wishes could become a reality, adding that though the exercise would be expensive it was worth facilitating.

He advised the national committees from both countries to fully engage the concerned group to fully understand what would happen adding that it must be noted that some of the registered members were minors.

Enga according to the local media said it was imperative for parents to tell their children the truth and urged the committees to make proper arrangements that the children make the right decisions when they reach 21 years.

He said in the past, they experienced that some factors of life were not considered because parents were eager to move, some even during mid school calendar, some abandoned their property including livestock which become stray animals, and advised that exercise should consider all factors and children helped to adapt to the new environment.

Leipego, shared with the delegation on public health, education, immigration and citizenship, animal health status and security requirements to be observed such as immigration and citizenship, noting that persons of full age and capacity would be facilitated to renounce Botswana citizenship prior to their departure and issued with Renunciation Certificates.

On educational issues, Leipego explained to the Namibia delegation that a total of 343-school going children will be relocated with their parents and that 13 teachers had already resigned.

He also noted that students doing form 3 and 5 would be allowed to complete their studies since they might find it difficult to cope with the new curriculum.

Meanwhile, between 1904 and 1908 large numbers of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama people fled then German South West Africa to Botswana to escape the indiscriminate and genocidal wrath of German colonial troops, who were acting on an extermination order from the infamous General Lothar von Trotha.

Many now live in villages such as Tsau, Semboyo, Makakung, Kareng, Bothatogo, Toteng, Sehithwa, Bodibeng, Komana and Chanoga, the Ngamiland district at large centres such as Charleshill and Maun.

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