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- Framework agreement on livestock rustling imminent
- Agreement to expedite action on the cross border crime
- There are plans to relief affected farmers
Botswana and Zimbabwe will today, at the end of the week long 4th session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC), among other instruments, sign a framework agreement on livestock rustling to expedite action on livestock rustling, a major issue that continues to trouble the two countries within their common borders.
Addressing the 4th session of the Botswana-Zimbabwe BNC yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lemogang Kwape revealed that the two countries need to urgently conclude and sign the framework agreement on livestock rustling, indicating that the problem started as a common stock theft has since escalated into serious, well- organised cross-border crime.
Kwape further indicated that livestock rustling continues to rob many farmers of their livestock and relegate them to a life of poverty and destitution. Kwape revealed the two countries will come up with an urgent agreement to expedite action on this problem, since it has far-reaching implications, not only on the livelihoods of the affected communities but also on the socio-economic development of the two countries.
Furthermore, Minister Kwape revealed that the two countries have in a previous meeting, established a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) to coordinate and implement the recommendations as well as the decisions of the Botswana/Zimbabwe BNC regarding the problem, indicating that the JTC has since overseen the process of a relief program for the affected farmers.
He said the JTC has already developed guidelines for restocking, as well as the verification and assessment form, which were both adopted by the Joint Ministerial Committee as the tools used in the identification of eligible beneficiaries.
“Given the excellent bilateral relations between our two countries, I am confident that our joint efforts can effectively eradicate this problem, including its root causes. I have no doubt that our senior officials have come up with some recommendations for our consideration, to effectively address this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kwape emphasised that the two countries also engage in high-level forums in various areas such as diplomatic, legal, defense, security, sport, health, transport, and wildlife management, indicating that though they have recorded noteworthy progress in some areas of cooperation, a lot still needs to be done to yield tangible results that will improve the livelihoods of their peoples.
“We still have some pending Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Agreements, which have the potential to broaden our cooperation agenda. I implore us to redouble our efforts to speedily finalise all the pending instruments,” he said.
Minister Kwape revealed that Botswana will continue to advocate for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe, as they continue to be an obstacle in Zimbabwe’s path towards full economic recovery, indicating that Botswana, and the SADC region at large, are also affected by these sanctions.
Meanwhile, his counterpart, Zimbabwean Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Frederick Shava revealed that the two countries have initiated a joint framework for cooperation to facilitate and harmonise efforts in the fight against livestock rustling, with the joint efforts by the two police organizations and interstate liaison operations have drastically reduced livestock rustling crime along the borders.
Shava indicated that both countries will do everything possible, even if their resources as individual countries may be scarce and stretched to the limits, both countries have made sacrifices for the sake of ending this crime, emphasing that the BNC’s work cannot be accomplished at the annual regular sessions but can only achieve results at the BNC meetings if efforts are made to utilise the inter-sessional time to execute their commitments.
“I, therefore, wish to encourage our officials to forge ahead on all the agreed BNC agenda issues once we close this fourth session. I also wish to encourage the Co-Chairs of the Technical or Thematic Committees and the Co-Chairs of the sectoral committees to continue convening meetings of their committees well in advance of the BNC Annual Sessions,” he said.