Despite some Batswana having been affected by the Namibian genocide, the government of Botswana will not form part of the negotiations between Germany and Namibia on the matter.
According to Foreign Affairs Minister, Unity Dow, Botswana took a decision not to be involved because the matter is of a bilateral nature between two sovereign states.
However, Dow said the government expresses sympathy for what the affected communities went through in their history and for the scars that continue to pass through the subsequent generations.
Dow was responding to a question raised by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ngami, Kainangura Hikuama. The MP had asked the minister whether the ministry was aware of the genocide negotiations between the German government and the affected communities or governments.
Hikuama had further asked the government’s position on the negotiations in relation to the victims of German colonial genocide who are currently citizens of Botswana.
The MP also wanted to know if there were individuals or groups of Batswana who showed interest, or claimed a stake in the negotiations to facilitate their full participation in the negotiations. Dow said the government has encouraged the affected communities to work with the other affected tribes in Namibia to pursue the issue.
“To this end we have facilitated meetings of the reparations committee of Batswana of Namibian descent with their Namibian counterparts. There have also been representations from the reparations committee of Batswana of Namibian descent to the government of Botswana on the issue,” she said.
She stated that the United Nations and subsequently the German government have only recognised that the acts of genocide took place in Namibia.
She added that the
“The government also encourages the affected communities to continue their engagement with the German government through the process, which has already been established by the government of Namibia for a negotiated settlement, especially that communities like the Ovaherero in Namibia still have strong historical, cultural and tribal link to the Ovaherero in Botswana,” Dow said.
However, the minister said Botswana remains available to offer support to the effort within the parameters of its policies and laws. Meanwhile, MPs pleaded with the government to find ways of assisting the affected citizens especially that there are scars that continue to pass through to their subsequent generations.
Standing on a point of procedure, the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said he was uncomfortable for Parliament to have allowed questions dealing with relations of other countries, their nationalities and how they were treated in the past.
“If we continue to allow theses kinds of questions, tomorrow we will be asked about genocide in Burundi. At some point the Namibians wanted to come and meet the President concerning this matter. This is a serious matter beyond our borders hence I am uncomfortable with this question,” Tsogwane said.
However, Dow clarified that the question raised was relevant because it affects Batswana with interests in another country.