Plans are at an advanced stage for residents of Botswana and Namibia visiting either of the two countries to use their national identity cards instead of passport.
This emerged during the 28th Session of the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security which was held in Gaborone from 17 to 21 February 2020.
During the session, the Joint Commission agreed to develop modalities and terms of reference for the use of national identity cards for cross border travel between the two countries.
On other issues during the session, the Commission noted with concern the changing nature of crime, in particular cross border offences that are increasingly becoming complex with the advent of cybercrimes.
This includes transnational organised crimes such as illegal possession of firearms, illegal migration, smuggling of goods, as well as human and drug trafficking. The Commission undertook to remain resilient and robust in the fight against crime through collaboration at a multi-sectoral level.
The Commission noted with grave concern the escalation of incidences of poaching and associated wildlife crimes, and recalled that in 2019 alone, in Botswana thirty-six (36) rhinoceros were killed in poaching activities, while in Namibia, 45 were killed.
In that regard, the Commission urged the relevant stakeholders to strengthen the capacity to combat poaching in a coordinated manner through intelligence sharing.
The Commission noted that the two countries had during the period under review, experienced serious drought conditions which led to crop failure and huge livestock losses, adversely affecting the livelihood of a substantial number of farmers and communities. The Commission however, expressed gratitude at the recent rains that have since improved the situation.
The Commission commended Namibia on the launch of a new terminal at Walvis Bay which is expected to double the port’s carrying capacity and will stimulate the economic development of the country, while among others easing the movement of people, goods and services within the region.
The Commission commended the two countries for signing the Memorandum of Agreement on Facilitation of Persons residing in Impalila island and Kasika villages. The agreement will facilitate the movement of people living along the common border within a radius of 20 kilometres by issuing them with border passes.
The Commission noted with appreciation the progress on the signing of the Boundary Treaty and urged the parties to exchange the instruments of ratification by June 2020.
The Commission took note of the returning of former Namibian refugees who were at the Dukwi Refugee Camp back to Namibia. The exercise was successfully concluded and the Tripartite Commission was dissolved on the 8th October 2019. The Namibian delegation conveyed deep appreciation towards the Government and People of Botswana as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for their support and collaboration with the Government of Namibia during many years of relentless efforts to have the former Namibian refugees return home.
The Commission commended the excellent bilateral cooperation in the areas of Defence, Public Security and State Security as evidenced by regular convening of sessions, which now stands at 28. Particular emphasis was placed on the successful implementation of outcomes and decisions, which have a bearing not only on peaceful co-existence, but most importantly on the livelihood of the two peoples.
On regional matters, the Commission commended Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states that held peaceful elections since October 2018, in line with the 2015 Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
The Commission extended its congratulations to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, as incoming Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, for the period 2020/2021. The Namibian delegation offered its full support and well wishes to the incoming chair.
The Commission noted that Botswana and Namibia remained committed to the SADC Standby Force and pledged closer cooperation and readiness of the force.
The Commission commended the steadfast move by the African Union in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) scheduled to come into operation on 2 July, 2020.
The Commission expressed concern about the outbreak of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic which has to date claimed many lives in China. The Commission agreed to cooperate and continue monitoring the situation by putting in place preventative measures at ports of entry to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
Source: The Southern Times