Monday, July 15, 2024

Khama sabotages Botswana/Namibia’s uneasy peace

Former President Ian Khama has stoked the ambers of a subsiding animosity between Botswana and Namibia by telling the Namibian media that Botswana has a shoot to kill policy.

The former president appears to have been caught in the eye of a storm as dust refuses to settle around the fatal shooting of four Namibians by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) along the Chobe River last year.

It is understood that the four men described by their compatriots as fishermen were shot dead after they were suspected to be poachers by the BDF.  

While a meeting between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Namibian President Hage Geingob early this year managed to offset the escalating diplomatic row and calm tension between the two neighbouring countries, it has since emerged that Khama’s decision to back and defend the existence of the shoot to kill policy stoked curiosity among the Namibian leadership as to whether or not the shoot to kill policy existed. 

Following the incident Khama had told a Namibian publication that the shoot to kill policy was not a written law.

Diplomatic sources familiar with the controversy surrounding the fatal shooting of the four men, Tommy, Martin, and Wamunyima Nchindo and their cousin Sinvula Munyeme, allege Geingob contacted Khama to get to the bottom of the matter.

This is because, the diplomat said, Botswana leadership is sending conflicting messages in dealing with Namibia about the issue. “While former President Khama confirms the existence of a shoot to kill strategy, his processor President Masisi denies its existence,” he explained.

A detailed statement seen by Sunday Standard dated 26 April 2021, issued by Geingob’s office states in part that “the Head of State provided a report on progress with regard to the killings of Nchindo brothers, Tommy, Martin, Wamunyima and informed the Ncindo family that he had raised the “shoot to kill” policy with former President Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana.” 

The statement added that “However, the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi of the Republic of Botswana had reassured President Geingob that the Botswana Defence did not have a “shoot to kill” policy.”

Defending the shoot to kill policy, Khama had told the Namibian publication that “This sends a message to potential poachers. I personally plead to any who have such intentions to think twice about committing such a crime our or any country.” 

He added that “Like I said, it is not a policy which is written in law, but an operational procedure I support if applied in the circumstances I have outlined.” The unwritten policy was reportedly adopted by Khama’s administration in 2013 as a way of deterring poachers from being involved in poaching activities along the borders of Botswana and her neighbours. 

Meanwhile the Namibian Presidency statement also stated that “With regard to the report, which the Nchindo family requested to see, the President informed that the joint investigation report into the killings was complete, as he had previously announced and the Government would consider their request to view contents of the report. However, the question of jurisdiction was equally important and the report could not be made public, the President emphasized.” 

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