The long-standing dispute over the Orange River boundary between Namibia and South Africa will feature during deliberations at the 3rd session of the Namibia-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC), underway in Windhoek.

The Orange River forms the international border between South Africa and Namibia.

The border between Namibia and South Africa falls on the northern bank of the river, which is the highest mark of the river on the Namibian side, contrary to acceptable international practice that a river border should fall in the middle and at the deepest point of the river.

The Orange River forms a 600-kilometre border between the two countries.

Namibia wants the median line boundary of the river, while South Africa has been holding onto the colonial divide, where the border mark falls on the Namibian side or the banks of the river on the Namibian side.

"One important outstanding issue between us is the question of the Orange River boundary between Namibia and South Africa, and it is my fervent hope that this issue is

comprehensively dealt with during this session, to enable us to complete the process that was started in 1993 between the two countries", says Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

A treaty between Britain and Germany, concluded in 1890, sets the demarcation at the high water level of the northern bank.

The Namibian constitution clearly stipulates where the border must fall, which is enshrined in Article 1(4) of the Namibian Constitution.

This states that Namibia's southern boundary shall extend to the middle of the Orange River.

However, no formal agreement has ever been concluded between South Africa and Namibia that would have fixed the new border location.

Photo Credits


Peter Denk & Selima Henock