Members of parliament (MPs) have urged the home affairs ministry to grant citizenship to Angolan immigrants who arrived in Namibia in 1976, just after their nation got independence.
This is contained in a report that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Security submitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“These people have families and relatives in both countries but still don’t have national documents as they do not meet the requirements.
“Consideration should be made to either relax the requirement for those [Angolans] who arrived in the country in 1976 or the ministry should adopt the strategy used to assist the Hereros who returned from Botswana,” the committee recommended.
After independence, the political situation became volatile and Angolans poured into Namibia, which shares a border of over 1 300km with Angola, and citizens of the two countries share families as well as political history. Many of those never returned to their homeland and have lived in Namibia since then.
The committee said the issue has been with Cabinet for the past seven years but no amicable solution has been taken so far.
“The law or policy on requirements need to be relaxed to grant exemption to this group as it is now evident that it has become difficult for these people to access the necessary services, more especially during trying and difficult times,” said the 11-member committee chaired by Leevi Katoma.
The committee undertook an inspection visit to capital projects being implemented by the home affairs and defence ministries in the Oshikoto, Oshana, and Kunene regions from 31 March to 4 June this year.
The MPs also urged the ministry of home affairs to ensure adequate border patrols in the Kunene region, by providing patrol vehicles capable of traversing the region’s sandy and rocky terrains.
Similarly, they expressed their dissatisfaction with the absence of gazetted border posts in the Kunene region, saying it contributes to illegal crossing and cross border crimes, an “issue the regional leadership is very much concerned with”.
The commission said proposals have been made before to open borders at Otjomuhaka, Onungurura and Otjinungua but so far no positive responses received.
Likewise, MPs said another thing observed during the visit in the Kunene region as the issue of national documents.
“Many people in Opuwo Rural constituency do not have national documents, and several attempts were made by councillors for the ministry to visit the affected communities, but to no avail, financial constraints was cited as the main reason,” said the members in a nine-page report.