- Frontier tensions escalate as Namibian parliamentary committee hearings continue
- Tswana and Subia people say life is not the same as before
Residents of Impalila – an island at the far eastern tip of Namibia that is bounded on the north by the waters of the Zambezi River and on the south by the Chobe River – have told a Namibian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, Security, Constitution and Legal Affairs that they want to cut ties with their Botswana cousins for security reasons.
Impalila, which has a population of about 2500-3000 people, was among the first areas to be visited by the parliamentary committee which is scheduled to meet four traditional authorities and affected frontier communities before compiling a report for the National Council and the National Assembly to determine the way forward.
The committee is currently conducting public hearings into the security situation along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwando rivers in the Zambezi Region.
In a position paper presented to the committee, the residents called on their government to extend the necessary social amenities to them because, as they say, they are tired of depending on Botswana whose army harasses them.
“We are sick and tired,” one of the residents, Siboleka Sikanda, said as he read out before the committee. “Therefore, do not force us to reconcile with Botswana. We don’t want to depend on them . . . They don’t have the spirit of ubuntu.”
The Namibian and Botswana governments are currently exploring ways of arresting the simmering tensions.
In the paper, Sikanda blames the Namibian government for not doing much for them. “Our government should prioritize the construction of the road from Nakabolelwa to Kasika to relieve our suffering,” he read. “A bridge must be constructed to connect Impalila across the Kasaya channel to the mainland.”
The residents’ paper goes on to accuse the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) of making their lives difficult by constantly confiscating the fishermen’s nets and/or fish, thus disrupting their livelihoods.
Meanwhile, as the anti-Botswana rhetoric continues, the BDF has reiterated its commitment to continue protecting the country’s natural resources with the utmost professionalism.
In a recent visit to Kasane, the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Lemogang Kwape, emphasised the need for frontier communities in Botswana and Namibia to co-exist in a harmonised environment.