News and Information

May 31, 2015

It has always been the wish of every political refugee to one day return back to their mother land. But while problems that made political refugees to flee their country of origin is not solved, it becomes highly an issue of concern as their security and safety cannot be guaranteed. It should also be crystal here that, much as host countries has all the rights to revoke status of refugees and extradite or forcefully repatriate them; they also have other ways to critically look into a problem. As international subjects, refugees are not animals but humans like all other people in any given country.

Since we all know that host countries could benefit nothing from refugees, it is safe to state here that, wise people once depicted that sometimes disputed territories end up being sovereign countries whose relations neighboring countries might seek as country’s interests change. It is also clear “as they say”that one can choose a friend and not a neighbor. While Caprivians’ fate is currently in limbo, as SWAPO is jubilating to have succeeded in their endeavor to kill Caprivians’ dream for freedom, they should not underestimate the power of a people.

In this world we all are exposed to nearly everything, and if boxed in a corner, it is easy to find another way through which people could be heard. We on numerous occasions put it in black and white that, we were prepared to sit around a political table with the SWAPO government of Namibia but all our efforts landed on deaf ears. SWAPO should be content that while they are seeking the return of Caprivians from Dukwi refugee camp, still they are aware that the situation that made them to flee their motherland has not changed even a bit. SWAPO is still imprisoning Caprivians; SWAPO banned the United Democratic Party (UDP) from politicking, and thus, cannot use their connections to champion their organizational cause. Why not first put in place mechanisms that would be conducive for both parties in this conflict to operate by?

It is SWAPO that has turned the Caprivi Strip as a sub-region of Kavango; they have made people of the Caprivi Strip to travel 500km to receive hospital services or die in a degraded Caprivi General Hospital, which has forced patients to seek services in Zambia and Botswana; SWAPO changed the Caprivi Strip name to Zambezi with no consent from Caprivians; SWAPO repealed section 38(5) of the South-West Africa Constitution Act, 1968 (Act No. 39 of 1968) which provided that no Act of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and no Ordinance of the Legislative Assembly of the then Territory of South/West Africa passed on or after the first day of November 1951 would apply in that part of the said Territory that was demarcated and known as the Eastern Caprivi Zipfel; and it was SWAPO that merged with CANU on November 5, 1964 and all Caprivians are asking is for them (SWAPO) to honor the Lusaka agreement.

We once lived together in exile and after their interest waned, they put aside Mr. Muyongo and killed other Caprivians. If SWAPO refused negotiations, what then is left for the people of the Caprivi Strip to benefit from them? We have our territory and would want to turn it into a paradise where all Caprivians young and old shall live free from being arrested, tortured, and oppressed. We are not Namibians but Caprivians; this we do not need Namibia or Botswana to remind us.We all are political animals whose mouths cannot be closed and shut to please the other, and thus, would not want to witness the killing that took place in SWAPO exile to repeat itself.

If Botswana does not want to see Caprivians being butchered by SWAPO for the second time; it should not force Caprivians in their country to return to their slaughter house. If Botswana want Caprivians to enjoy the pursuit of happiness; they should use their influence to make Namibia agree to settle the Caprivi Strip case peacefully on a political table. Minister Kgati while addressing Caprivians in Dukwi was quoted as saying that “we do not recognize you as Caprivians, but Namibians”. He further stated that “we consider you as individuals and not as a group”. Let us state here clearly that, much as we appreciate wholeheartedly the hospitality Botswana has accorded us thus far, we thought that we were not up in arms with our host country. We also feel that there was no need to deploy SSG in Dukwi whose inhabitants are unarmed and defenseless.

It is true Caprivians in exile are freedom fighters, but have not started to wedge war of arms with anyone. We are fighting Namibia for imposing their sovereign rule over us; we fighting Namibia for the divide and rule tactics that the Minister is trying to condone; and we fighting Namibia’s oppression and black colonialism. We also are well aware of the bilateral relations between the two countries, but Batswana know very well that Caprivi Strip was not part of Namibia when it was administered at Kasane and Maun. They also know that history has it that, previously it was Lewanika in Barotseland, Mamili in Linyandi (Caprivi Strip), and Khama in Botswana, and the trio enjoyed their cordial relations as they knew where their boundaries began and ended.The Caprivian border stretches from Impalila to Mukuvi and makes a turn passing through Kavango Linyandi, and Chobe rivers. Caprivians shares with Botswana not only their boundary but also their languages and culture.

It is also on record that Caprivians entered Botswana from 1998 and were granted status as political refugees. While in Botswana they have not violated that country’s laws to be treated otherwise. It is absurd, all of a sudden, to learn that Botswana has turned their back on Caprivians. Botswana’s history as far as refugees are concerned has always been an open book as it has been a safe haven for people who ran away from their countries. When the Germans were killing people in South West Africa, the Hereros sought refuge in Botswana; When the Apartheid regime in South Africa were killing people in South West Africa and Caprivi Strip, Botswana accepted them as refugees; and now SWAPO of Namibia tortured and killed Caprivians while others remains in their prisons to date with no sign whether they will be released, Botswana wants to return Caprivians to their slaughter house.

We can’t even recall when Hereros arrived in that country and even though others relocated back to Namibia, many still remain in Botswana. Why is it hard to comprehend that a problem exists between Caprivians and Namibians? Botswana got involved in the said conflict when they accorded Caprivians refugee status. It is common knowledge that one way or the other, the Caprivian/Namibia conflict directly impacts Batswana, which is why a lasting solution should be the way to go.

It is also strange for UNHCR to stand aloof or choose sides in a conflict. UNHCR knows that a conflict exists between Namibia and Caprivians. They know that Caprivians were butchered by Namibia to an extent that mass graves can be traced near Katina Mulilo and in Western Caprivi. UNHCR knows that SWAPO is never telling the truth as far as the situation in the Caprivi Strip is concerned. There is no freedom of speech as SWAPO banned UDP and thus taking aware their right to choose their representatives. They also know that after seventeen years the inspector General of the police publicly admits the brutality Caprivians had endured under the government of Namibia. Given these facts, UNHCR was supposed to take a center stage to protect Caprivian refugees. Instead of repatriating them, they were supposed to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

Before returning Caprivians back home; why not taking a middle ground, be a bridge between Botswana and Namibia to seriously influence them to discuss about a lasting solution to the conflict? SWAPO are killers, and as such, if Caprivians are returned home who then shall defend them when Namibia’s SWAPO government unleash their Brute force? Let there be a UN organized referendum where Caprivians shall be asked whether they want to be Namibians or become independent and the conflict shall be resolved once and for all. In this conflict forced repatriation is never an answer; mediation leading to political negotiation is. Botswana should play a neutral and vital role to bring about peace in the Caprivi Strip/Namibia conflict and never take sides to dance to Namibia’s tune.

Caprivians are a peace loving people; so, let it be known that although it is written that the southern part of the Caprivi Strip boundary was not demarcated; we dispel any doubts in regard to the propaganda used by Namibia that if Caprivians achieve and attain their freedom and independence they might claim land from Botswana as not only false but unfounded. We have the longest boundary in Chobe, Linyanti, Kwandu, and Kavango rivers to which we honor and respect.

We are our own liberators and thus shall leave no stone unturned in our quest for freedom.

UDP, Bulela sicaba sa utwa.

Chrispin Mutoiwa
UDP Secretary for Information
206 946 2435

cc Southern African Development Community
cc African Union.
cc United Nations in Botswana, Pretoria,and Geneva.
cc Botswana government.
cc Namibian government.
cc South African government.
cc Ditshwanelo (Botswana Human Rights.
cc Namibian Society for Human Rights.
cc Human Rights Watch in Geneva.

Source: United Democratic Party (U.D.P.)

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