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- Wants use of national identity cards at borders
Despite the criticism about his stance on Zimbabwe following the country’s disputed harmonized elections, President Mokgweetsi Masisi seem undeterred and is standing firm in his support and strengthening of bi-lateral relations with the country and its president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This surfaced once again during president Masisi’s kgotla meeting held in Masunga and Bobonong this week when he reiterated his stand against the US economic sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwean government as well as his proposal to allow for nationals of Botswana and Zimbabwe to use national identity cards to enter either country.
Recently Masisi was criticised for having gone against Southern African Development Committee (SADC) Election Observer Mission by issuing a congratulatory electoral victory message to Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa while the body dismissed the country’s elections as it was convinced that they were not free and fair.
In Masunga, Masisi condemned that Zimbabwe is torn apart by the sanctions imposed on them by the Western superpowers which he laments have caused economical-problems to the people of Zimbabwe. He described the sanctions as cruelty against the Zimbabwean people noting that in times of pandemics such as the covid-19 they were left to suffer as the western countries could not help them with essentials such as medicines.
The president said he has taken a deliberate decision to call on the western countries to end the sanctions against Zimbabwe because Botswana as its neighbouring country is also suffering the consequences adding that the issue is also causing conflicts between nationals of the two countries.
In Bobonong, the president reiterated his plan to discuss with the Zimbabwean president, Mnangagwa about his proposal of scrapping passport requirements for cross border travels between the countries. The proposal however received murmurs of discontent from some residents as they have been complaining that the Zimbabwen nationals terrorise them and stealing the cattle.
The president however allayed the fears of possible surge in criminal activities that may be caused by the development assuring that the use of national identity cards will also help government to have background information about those entering the country for criminal purposes. He also assured that those that are not wanted in Botswana will still be prohibited whether they have national identity cards or passports.
He said because of the economic problems faced by Zimbabweans, it is difficult for some citizens to acquire a passport hence they then opt to cross into Botswana illegally. “We hear that in Zimbabwe to buy a passport is over 300USD, many cannot afford that price hence why others decide to come into the country illegally,” he said, noting that not all Zimbabwean illegal immigrants have bad motives because some are pressed to come for social events with relatives.
Masisi added that the other reason for his proposal is that as SADC, AU and Africa at large they have agreed that they want to intergrade and live together noting that to allow for people to legally move freely is a prerequisite of that integration.
The governments of Botswana and Namibia has already put into effect the use of National Identity Cards as travel documents between the two countries.