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Ovaherero people repatriated from Botswana against ‘citizenship by registration’

Summary

The nearly 700 Ovaherero community members who attended the 28th anniversary of their return from Botswana in 1993, expressed dissatisfaction with the government that recognised them as Namibians by registration.The disgruntled group gathered at Gam in…

The nearly 700 Ovaherero community members who attended the 28th anniversary of their return from Botswana in 1993, expressed dissatisfaction with the government that recognised them as Namibians by registration.

The disgruntled group gathered at Gam in the Tsumkwe Constituency over the weekend to commemorate their repatriation from Botswana on 28 April 1993.

They are descendants of Ovaherero warriors who fought in the war of resistance against the German colonial forces in 1904 to 1908.

Their forefathers crossed to Botswana when the war inside the country intensified.

Nearly all those who attended the event were born in Botswana and are Namibians by registration.

“Since we are grandchildren of the war warriors who fought against the German colonial forces and fled into exile in Botswana where we were born, we would like our country to recognise us as Namibians by descent,” said most of the speakers.

The Ovaherero people who gathered over the weekend held two separate events at different places in Gam while commemorating their return to Namibia.

The two groups were divided between the Maharero Royal Traditional Chief, Tjinani Maharero and the OvaHerero Paramount Chief, Vekuii Rukoro, who were both present.

Each chief addressed his meeting by highlighting how the more than 7 000 Herero descendants that now live in the Gam area had crossed over to Namibia through the Muhembo border post.

“We also wish for the next generation still in Botswana to be repatriated, to be granted status of Namibians by descent,” said Peter Kamuzari.

Kamuzari was one of the leaders in Botswana who had registered the Herero people who returned to Namibia in 1993 from Botswana.

The 72-year-old Kamuzari also carries the citizenship of being a Namibian by registration, which he is against, saying his ancestors were warriors for the independence of this country.

Other topics of discussion at the meetings included the preservation of the Herero culture, slow development activities at Gam, improved farming and for those who so wish to apply for government resettlement farms to do so.

Deputy Director for Passports and Citizenship in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security Josephine Nghimtina in a telephonic interview with Nampa on Monday said she is aware of the OvaHerero returnees’ concerns on their citizenship status.

“This issue was debated in Parliament in 2015, therefore as a ministry, we are aware of it,” she said.

Nghimtina further explained that the citizenship by registration is normally granted to an applicant whose parents are forefathers, while that of descent is accorded to an applicant whose parents, or at least one parent, is a Namibian at the time of the birth.

Source: Namibia Press Agency