Refugees who fled the Caprivi Strip conflict two decades ago and settled at Dukwi Refugee Camp here below respond to reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart are fast-tracking their repatriation to Namibia
Ten days in office for His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi, launches a blood shell on Caprivian refugees in his country during his purposeful official visit to Namibia to meet his counterpart His Excellency President Geingob”.
Our well wishes for your escalation to the high office of the President. It is fundamentally true that every position of authority is God-given. We would like to wish you all the best as you discharge your daily duties to serve your people.
We did not plan that we should be called refugees, neither did we choose voluntarily when we were running into Botswana around 1998 to 2000. We were just running with our lives in bare hands because the political situation was not warranting for all of us to stay in the Caprivi Strip which is forcefully occupied by Namibia.
It is an open secret that we were given political asylum with our leaders, Mishake Muyongo, His Highness Chief Bebi Mamili, three councillors, the Late John Mabuku, the late Francis Sizimbo and Mr. Walubita and many others.
It was this very Republic of Botswana under the former President Mr. Festus Mogae (that welcomed us). It is true that the first group that came were carrying arms of war which were handed to the Botswana authority.
Thereafter masses crossed into Botswana. All the people who crossed into Botswana were interviewed by the authority and were registered members of the political party, United Democratic Party (UDP).
In our first meeting in 1999 when we met the then (Namibian) Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ikandjo, we indicated categorically that we want a solution to our problem so that we can return home earlier and peacefully.
Mr. President, refugee life is hard and truly speaking no one can choose for it without a cause. We are now left with only four months to complete 20 years in Botswana as refugees. This is against our will as we never intended to be refugees.
It is fundamentally true that we were granted political asylum and later changed to refugee status. The reasons for the difference between the two and for the change are best known by this Republic.
Mr. President, a beggar is not a chooser. You gave us without force, but because of the situation that you saw. Now you feel we don’t deserve it you have the authority as given by God first and later by the people to do as you wish. Currently as you did already, God bless you.
When you take your status from us, we shall remain human beings first, as created by God in his very image and then as Caprivians who deserve to live like any human beings. It is true that though you are a President, you are still a human being created in the image of God.
Your Excellency, since our arrival in this Republic we have tried our best to behave ourselves. For sure like any human body that cannot be without even a pimple, so is every community. Those who were found on the wrong side of the law were dealt with according to the law without favor. Mr. President, we regret to learn that while you were visiting Namibia and you spoke to your Colleague President Geingob, we realised that the trip was mainly about us. You spoke against us as if we have committed a crime in your country.
Many times we have reiterated that we want to go home peacefully. We don’t deserve to be bundled in your trucks for deportation as you suggest treating us. We have a problem that we told you, which is also well known by President Geingob.
Now that we are no longer refugees, we have become illegal immigrants in the Republic of Botswana. You legalised our stay in this country for 20 years, now you are changing saying we deserve to be deported.
We must have committed a crime that makes you angry against us like that, not just because Namibia is friendly to you.
Mr. President, we note that there existed a Tripartite Commission where Namibia, Botswana and UNHCR were the facilitators with regard to the Caprivian Refugees in Botswana. We are glad to note that it no longer exists because it was biased and irrelevant as it could not come up to the solution in our case. Our issue is a political case, a treasonous issue according to Namibia and therefore the involvement of UNHCR was quite irrelevant and a misappropriation of responsibilities.
Bilateral relations between
Namibia and Botswana
Mr. President, it is in the eyes of every beholder and every hearer that the bilateral relation between Namibia and Botswana are now centred on us Caprivians. We are now the victims or spoil of all differences between two countries, the source of bilateral strength. We feel and we can see that we are sold and exchanged for the Walvis Bay Port, the Trans Kalahari Highway, the Kasikili/Sedudu Island.
It is sad for our leaders, sad for SADC, sad for Africa and sad for
Mr. President ,as mentioned earlier on, though we do not practice politics in the refugee camp and on Botswana soil. However, we belong to a political party as mentioned above. We are a law abiding community and so we keep the standard you want us to keep.
This is so, but when asked we say that we belong to a political party that demands justice and freedom for the entire Caprivians. This is a fact. Last time we said recognition or not does not make someone lose who he is. As said earlier on, we registered in your files as members of the banned political party UDP, banned in 2006 while we were in Dukwi Refugee Camp in Botswana.
Go See, Come and Tell
Mr. President, you are aware that your government convinced us to undertake a risky trip to Namibia on the 28 June 2015 under the UNHCR program of Go See, Come and Tell. The purpose of the visit was to assess the political situation so that we could have an informed decision before we decide to voluntarily return. The trip was scheduled to last until the 7th August 2015, but it was abruptly cancelled by the order from His Excellency Dr. Geingob on the account that we are UDP people who believe that Caprivi is illegally occupied by Namibia.
It is true that there were armed security forces in the Governor’s Chamber that morning on the 1st of August 2015 when we were just given two hours to leave Caprivi which indeed is what happened.
Your Excellency, I think you learnt something during your conversation with President Geingob. He warned that those who have Political agendas are not welcome to Namibia and we have no doubt that he meant us UDP people in Botswana.
His Excellency President Geingob said it openly that when we are deported to Namibia, we are going to be prosecuted and charged with treason upon our arrival. Mr. President it is true that we are unrepentant Caprivians as Dr. Geingob said, who are determined to seek the permanent solution for the Caprivi political problem.
We have a message to His Excellency President Masisi and His Excellency Dr. Geingob. We put it to you that as leaders you have the capacity to resolve the Caprivi issue politically in a peaceful way. We put it to you that we believe in resolving political problems peacefully as peaceful people. We also trust that you know that dialogue to disputes is the necessary tool than shutting up people, dividing, oppressing and ruling them.
Your Excellencies, the Caprivi issue shall not be resolved by deporting us, putting us in prisons, threats of any kind, torture or even killing us all in exile. God who gave you the authority, the same God who created us and you ,will do what is right between us and you, because to God we are all his children despite the authority you have.
Many Caprivians lost their lives both in SWAPO exile and also in this exile. Be reminded again that we have thus far lost more than 400 people buried in Dukwi alone, not counting those who were buried in mass graves in the Caprivi Strip. How many more do you still want to see dead?
You want us to be holding arms, fighting every day, innocent people and children dying like what is happening in other countries? Is that when you will believe that we are serious?
For 20 years that we have been asking for a dialogue or for Namibia to prove her political strength in Caprivi through a referendum, but instead President Geingob enjoys to rule Caprivians with the barrel of gun. Caprivians live in political cages from the time they were forced to be Namibians.
We are determined never to procrastinate this struggle to the next generation. It is do or die now and never tomorrow.
This is what we are going to do, in fact we were suppose to be holding arms and fighting as you wish, where we could lose our lives, and it is true that is how many people died fighting for their countries: We are ready for deportation day or night
We are ready to die in the hands of the security forces who will be deporting us and to be buried where more than 400 comrades are buried
If magic happens that we find ourselves in Namibia, we are going to die there and we prefer that our corpses be brought back to Dukwi, so that we are buried where our comrades in the struggle are buried. We are not betrayers to our colleagues. An injury to one, is an injury to all.
I thank you Mr. President
This is written in agreement with all Caprivians in Dukwi in Botswana
Signed: Felix Kakula