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Sanctions driving Zimbabweans to commit crime in Botswana

by Staff reporter
24 May 2024 at 08:23hrs | Views
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi says targeted sanctions imposed by the West on ruling Zanu-PF officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, are forcing desperate Zimbabweans to commit crime in the neighboring country.

Masisi made these remarks at an event to handover cattle to compensate victims of cross-border livestock rustling in Mabolwe, a village near the Zimbabwean border.

He said those who cross into Botswana to commit crime, mostly do so due to the adverse effects of the sanctions.

There is rampant cattle rustling between the two countries' common border, with Masisi's government compensating villagers with more than 2,800 animals worth P35 million (US$3 million).

"It's critical that I thank President Mnangagwa, my counterpart. He did his best to assist. We are friends with Zimbabwe, but some, including in our own parliament, don't understand why we are friends with Zimbabwe. Previously our administration would openly chastise Zimbabwe. But I will not do that. Zimbabweans are our relatives and you don't criticize your neighbor in that way," Masisi said.

The president said if he didn't handle the issue of livestock rustling in a diplomatic manner, it is likely the challenge would still persist.

However, Masisi said he will never allow Batswana to be harassed in their own country. Cattle rustlers crossing from Zimbabwe reportedly unleashed a reign of terror in often violent clashes with locals as they move in groups armed with machetes, among others.

Meanwhile, Masisi criticized the West for imposing targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"There are some countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, believing there are certain governance issues that are not being done well. Even here (in Botswana), we have some who believe that and say there is no rule of law, there is dictatorship in Zimbabwe and that as Botswana we should openly voice our concern. But I will not do that. I will have a civil engagement with Zimbabwe," he said.

Masisi said, "If you have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, who are our neighbours (and) if your neighbor does not have salt, they ask for salt from you. If your neighbour's children are hungry and you are not around, the naughty ones get in and steal. Zimbabweans come here and steal in order to survive. They don't do it to get rich, but to put something in their stomach."

Masisi urged countries that have imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe to engage in dialogue in order to find common ground.

"We don't agree with the sanctions. If you have differences with someone, talk to him. I am happy that countries like America listened to my plea to remove sanctions. We plead with the western countries to lift sanctions."

Source - VOA