Windhoek - SADC should have free visas to bring down artificial borders and raise economies of scale through regional integration, Namibian Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba, has said.
He said the free movement of people promotes regional integration in business and other economic activities which are part of the core objectives of the region.
Mbumba’s sentiments echo those of Namibian President and SADC Chairperson Hage Geingob who told this publication in an exclusive interview last week that the dream for SADC will be the dream for Namibia and the dream for Africa because Africans were one. Geingob said SADC must harmonise its activities, have free movement of people, people to people contact, with goods and services moving freely.
“Young people have faith in Africa and SADC. But first in your own country, then SADC, then Africa, and the world. It will be one Namibian house where all Namibian people are not going to identify themselves as tribes but as all Namibians. It should be the same for SADC where we are going to see each other as children of SADC, and not Zimbabwe, not South Africa and Botswana and so on,” the President said.
Mbumba said during the liberation struggle, SADC member states displayed oneness as they effectively worked together against the enemy and urged the same oneness to continue to benefit the people of the region in all aspects.
“We want our people to move freely and remove the issue of visas. Why should I need a visa to go to South Africa, to Zimbabwe or Botswana when I am from Namibia?
“My passport has all my details that are on my ID card. They can have it anytime and if I have records that I am a bad person, then they can make me return at the border post. But to demand visas within our own region can be a limitation,” said Mbumba.
“We need to feel at home when we are in SADC, we need to be as one and be like children of the same house, children of the same family. SADC as a region cannot function with divisions, it has to integrate and operate as one.
“During the days of the Frontline states, unity was on one basic point: the total liberation of southern Africa and that was in the hands of the states, thus it was easy to coordinate and to do. And also the unity was stronger and maybe because of the fact that it was an era of war and life confrontation situations, and in that scenario you have to help your neighbour because if they fall maybe tomorrow you will also end up falling.”
Mbumba acknowledged the efforts being made by SADC member states in economic scaling in the region through integration and added that these can be enhanced through free movement.
“Today, we have now expanded in terms of business and economies. We have companies that are cooperating in meat marketing in Botswana and Namibia. We are also cooperating in many others, for instance we have Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Botswana who have dry ports in Walvis Bay. These things were not there, nor possible during the liberation struggle.”
He said free movement of people enhances the oneness in the region which is recommended because SADC as a region cannot operate with divisions.