- Zim urged to clarify misconceptions around Mnangagwa’s statement
- Minister says proposed use of IDs for passports not “formalized” yet
The government is taking prompt action to dispel misconceptions and clarify the situation following recent remarks that President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe said that his country and Botswana had struck a deal to allow citizens of both nations to use identity cards for travelling.
A high profile official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has told The Gazette that efforts are underway to engage the Zimbabwean government about ensuring that accurate information is conveyed to the public in the neighbouring country.
“We have urged the Zimbabwean government to clarify and rectify any misconceptions stemming from President Mnangagwa’s statement,” said the official who preferred anonymity. “No deal has been finalised and the public should not think otherwise.”
Speaking at the Kusi Ideas Festival in Gaborone recently, President Mnangagwa said an agreement to use IDs for travelling between Botswana and Zimbabwe had been reached.
This implied that all that would henceforward be required of travelling citizens of the two nations was to produce identity cards at points of departure and entry.
Mnangagwa’s utterances have generated considerable attention and confusion, at one point leading to reported hordes of Zimbabweans carrying only their IDs massing on the Zimbabwe side of the border at Plumtree in an attempt to enter Botswana.
“No such agreement has been signed”
Following Mnangagwa’s remarks Botswana’s Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Anna Mokgethi, stated that no such agreement has been signed.
“While we are actively engaging with Zimbabwe, there is currently no finalised agreement between Botswana and Zimbabwe for passport-free travel,” she said.
Minister Mokgethi also found herself having to clarify claims of a mass exodus of Zimbabweans into Botswana, saying there was no such thing at Botswana’s borders.
Namibia and Zambia
Botswana has recently entered into an arrangement of use of IDs for travelling with Namibia and is exploring similar discussions passport-free travel with Zambia.
However, reception of such an agreement with Zimbabwe has been met with concerns among Batswana that stem from the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe and potential implications for migration and security.
Critics argue that Botswana should exercise caution in entering into such agreements, especially with a country facing economic challenges and different population standards.
Efforts to reach the Minister of International Affairs, Dr Lemogang Kwape, proved futile when his phone was not answered.
PULL QUOTE: Reception of such an agreement with Zimbabwe has been met with concerns among Batswana that stem from the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe.