Monday, October 26, 2020

No military pact against Botswana, says Namibia

The Namibian government has distanced itself from a document purporting to be a pact with Angola to team up in the event of a military conflict with Botswana currently circulating in the two countries.

Namibia’s Information and Defence Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Ndaitwah said Thursday that Namibia and Angola have no defence pact that calls for the countries to assist each other in the event of a military conflict between Namibia and Botswana. A document containing allegations of the defence pact between the two countries has been circulated in Namibia and Angola.

A news article to that effect also appeared in the Windhoek Observer of 16 September under the headline “Provisions of the Luanda-Windhoek Military Pact: The treaty of Dos Santos and Nujoma’.

Ndaitwah has, however, dismissed it as a fabrication and the work of amateurs who are out to destroy the prevailing cordial relations between Namibia and her neighbours.

‘There is no military pact, protocol or memorandum of understanding on bilateral assistance between Namibia and Angola in the event of a military conflict with other SADC member states. A document that is currently being distributed in the country that claims otherwise, is a fabrication drafted by an individual or a group, who do not value the existing good neighbourly and peaceful relations between Namibia and other SADC member states, including Angola, Botswana and South Africa,’ she stressed.

She added that the motives of whoever wrote the so-called military pact, indicating that founding president Sam Nujoma and Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos as the masterminds of the document are unknown.

Ndaitwah cautioned that the document has the potential to damage the excellent relations between Namibia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa and other SADC member states.

She stressed that the government called on anybody with information on the origins of the false document to come forth to ensure that action is taken.
Said Ndaitwah: ‘The fact that the Windhoek Observer mentioned that the ‘defense protocol’ between Namibia and Angola was signed on 11 April 1996, while the document translated from Portuguese that is being distributed provides for a signing date in 2006, is a clear testimony that amateurs are at work to derail the region’s peace, stability and development.’

The Ministries of Defence of Namibia and Angola in Ondangwa signed the only bilateral Protocol on Co-operation between the governments of Namibia and Angola in the Domain of Defense on 07 July 2006, according to the minister.

The aim of that protocol is to strengthen co-operation between the two countries in the domain of defense and especially in the technical-military areas at the request of either party, within available means of each party and in conformity with the party’s domestic laws and international obligations.

Ndaitwah explained that according to this protocol, Namibia and Angola undertook to co-operate among others in the following fields: defense policy, education and training, defense intelligence, subject to the conclusion of adequate security arrangements between the parties, exchange and sharing of information on the organizational structures of their ministries of defense and respective defense forces, exchange visits and convening of meetings between the parties, peace support missions, search and rescue operations, humanitarian operations, de-mining, and health and medical assistance.

She stressed that the protocol is based on the General Agreement signed between the two countries in September 1990 and the Agreement on the establishment of a Joint Commission on Defense and Security, signed on 11 April 1996.

Besides the Namibia-Angola Joint Commission on Defense and Security Agreement Namibia signed similar agreements of co-operation with other SADC member states that led to the establishment of joint commissions.

Ndaitwah cautioned journalists to verify information at their disposal as well as their sources and noted that her ministry has an open-door-policy for journalists to obtain and correct such information.

Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief of the Windhoek Observer, Hannes Smith, praised the minister for her open-door-policy and noted that he was unaware that she practiced such a policy.

He agreed with her that such information should be verified and gave the assurance that he will make use of her office in future.

He, however, said that he made use of ‘reliable sources’ to publish the story.

Botswana’s High Commissioner, Norman Moleboge, indicated that Namibia and his country established a defense security commission in 1990 and the last meeting took place in July this year in Botswana.
‘There has never been conflict between Botswana and Namibia. This document is very surprising,’ he said.

Minister Counsellor of the Angolan Embassy, Antonio da Cruz and Mthembisi Mjikeliso from the South African High Commission echoed the same sentiments of Ndaitwah and noted that Namibia maintains excellent relations with all SADC member states. They said there are no hostilities among any of the member states, hence there is no need for secret bilateral defense parts.

Added Mjikeliso: ‘We really value the active participation of Namibia in SADC structures. Therefore, under no circumstances does this document bear any truth.’

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