Ovaherero Refugees Can’t Be Nam Citizens

ATTORNEY General and presidential affairs minister Albert Kawana has defended his statement about children born to Ovaherero refugees during colonial times having no right to Namibian citizenship.

In 2012, Kawana aised the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration on the issue of granting citizenship to the descendants of the Namibian refugees who fled to Botswana during apartheid.

The Ovaherero and Ovambanderu Council (OCD) described Kawana’s opinion as taking over the German general von Trotha’s mission to wipe out all the Hereros and favouring individuals from the late Chief Kuaima Riruako’s camp for appointment to the OvaHerero Traditional Authority.

Defending his stance in the National Assembly last week, Kawana said that it was nothing personal against the Hereros since this was in line with Article 4 of the Constitution.

He also denied favouring Riruako’s people, saying the councillors are appointed by a chief or head of a traditional community in terms of Section 10 of the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000.

“Those people who left Namibia for Botswana in 1909 and thereabouts, people like Samuel Maharero himself, if he were still alive, by our Constitution he was deemed to be a Namibian citizen by birth and therefore there was nothing in the law or otherwise that would have prevented him or others like him to come back,” Kawana said.

Kawana also said the only people who needed approval are the second and subsequent generations of those who were born in Botswana. “They are not covered by the Namibian Constitution and it is only that category of people for whom we, as parliament, need to make provision by taking this special measure, and obviously there were inherent institutional, constitutional limitations and constraints. “I personally would have preferred our people in Botswana, the second and subsequent generations, to come back for lack of a better word – as first class citizens, namely citizens by birth, descent or whatever. But constitutionally, that cannot be done, unless we decide to bring about a constitutional amendment, which I doubt would be desirable at this point in time,” he said.

Kawana backed his statement with a quote from the then deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General Vekuii Rukoro’s motivation in the National Assembly during his contribution on the Bill on 1 November 1991.

“To borrow from Rukoros’ contribution to the debate in the National Assembly, ‘the second and subsequent generations of those who were born in Botswana were not covered by the Namibian Constitution, meaning that they do not quality for Namibian citizenship by descent and therefore a legal solution should be found for them,” he said.

He said the solution at the time was the passing of the Namibian Citizenship Special Conferment Act of 1991. “Unfortunately, It was only valid for five years,” he said. Kawana suggested that the Namibian Citizenship Special Conferment Act of 1991 be reviewed.

“The only amendment would be to omit under Section 2(1) reference to “within a period of five years after the commencement of this Act,” he said.

He said the home affairs and immigration ministry that will administer the Act, once passed by parliament, was fully in agreement with the proposal.

Source : The Namibian

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