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Repatriation to Go With Economic Opportunities – Uerikua

For the Namibia and Botswana governments, it is not just about repatriating the Ovaherero, Ovambandera and Nama back to the country but ensuring the returnees are well-integrated and given economic opportunities. 

These were the sentiments of Otjozondjupa regional governor James Uerikua, who recently led a Namibian delegation on a diagnostic visit to Botswana, where the continued relocation of Batswana of Namibian descent, bilateral issues and people-to-people matters were

Speaking to New Era, Uerikua shared the visit to Botswana was also aimed at identifying and verifying the exact growing number of people who have shown the willingness to return to Namibia for relocation. 

The returnees are primarily the descendants of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu, who fought and perished in the war of resistance against the German colonial government between 1904 to 1908. 

The few survivors of that war ended up in Botswana – and today, their descendants have continued to show their willingness to return in their hundreds to their motherland. 

At present, many are found 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.

“And it’s not just the people, but it was also to verify the number of animals and other properties they might have. 

This exercise was very important for both governments to ensure that the process of repatriating our people remains smooth and well-coordinated. For the two governments, the smooth integration and creation of economic opportunities is very vital,” he stated. 

“It’s not just about relocating people from Botswana and putting them in the Gam area – no; there are big plans in the pipelines for them and our visit to Botswana was to further complement our government’s efforts. 

“In fact, government has to date bought over five farms, and the intention is to ensure the returnees are just not crapped in one small area [Gam]. They must be given opportunities to settle elsewhere in the country, and flourish as farmers and equal Namibians.” 

The Namibian delegation, which was in Botswana from 18 to 24 June, comprised representatives from the agriculture ministry, ministry of home affairs, immigration, safety and security, ministry of international relations and cooperation, Namra, health ministry and Kambazembi Traditional Authority. 

The delegation had engagements with traditional leaders of Batswana of Namibian descent and the district leadership in Gaborone, Ghanzi, Charles Hill, Tsau and Maun areas. 

The first group of Batswana of Namibian ancestry were repatriated from that country in April 1993, and that number has since immensely grown over the years and continues to grow. 

In April, Cabinet directed the international relations ministry to formally request a response from the Botswana government on the repatriation of persons of Namibian descent. 

Home affairs minister Albert Kawana, his land reform counterpart Calle Schlettwein and gender minister Doreen Sioka will spearhead the process. 

The returnees will be welcomed at the Dobe border post and Gam reception area. 

Cabinet also directed the gender  ministry to provide social grants to the repatriates within three months from their date of entry. 

Cabinet also instructed the health ministry to reinforce the capacity of the Gam clinic to cater for the projected increased number of the Gam community.

The gender ministry was also commanded to continue increasing the coverage for social grants and the implementation of food assistance programmes for the marginalised community.

Source : Neweralive