- This follows agreement between Botswana and Namibia to abolish use of passports between the two countries
- Identity cards to be used instead
While the two governments of Botswana and Namibia are forging ahead with abolishment of passport requirements for their citizens to travel between the countries and use identity cards instead, Botswana still has to work on putting special features on its national identity card to make it machine readable.
The two Presidents of the two neighbouring countries, Haige Geingob and Mokgweetsi Masisi of Namibia and Botswana respectively recently signed an agreement on the identity use for border crossing, effectively putting into motion the process for implementation.
However, the implementation may take longer as Botswana still has to put some measures in place, among them security features on the ID, something which her counterparts in Namibia have long addressed.
Botswana’s acting Deputy Director in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Andreas Moeng told The Ngami Times that they are working around the clock with other departments to fast track the implementation of the agreement.
He further revealed that the Botswana National Identity card is currently not machine readable, adding that to rectify this government is currently working on a process of introducing e-IDs.
He revealed that currently Namibia uses e-IDs, and that means they also have to ensure that it is introduced in Botswana for the program to be implemented. This means the process to implement the agreement will rely on Botswana introducing e-IDs, something which may take some time.
Meanwhile some Batswana in the affected areas, especially those of Herero and Ovambanderu have welcomed the move to use IDs at borders with mixed reactions.
While they appreciate that the development will ease movement of people between the two countries, they remain fearful that it may open flood gates to national security of both countries.
Mbanderu Youth Association Botswana (MYAB) Chairperson, Simon Ngaruka welcomed the move by the two governments as it has been a challenge for some people to get a passport. However, he has said caution has to be exercised during implementation to eliminate elements of criminality.
He warned that the development may also open room for cross border cattle rustling between the two countries.
Ngaruka is of the view that following the implementation, the IDs should be advanced with modes of technology such as tracking devices so that those involved in criminal activities within the two countries can be easily identified.
Kgosi Tjazako Munduu of Ngami has explained that though they have not been informed about the agreement between the two countries, it may breed illegal activities between the two courtiers. He highlighted that people will illegally cross the border if sound security measures are not put in place.