The Voice (Botswana)


Masisi & Mnangagwa defend use of ID as travel document


President Mokgweetsi Masisi has called on Batswana to approach with logic and levelheade­dness instead of emotions, the envisaged use national identity cards (Omang & Chitupa) as travel documents between Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Speaking at a media briefing in Maun at the end of a week-long Zimbabwe-botswana Bi-national Commission (BNC) on Friday last week, Masisi noted the establishm­ent of a one-stop border post to enhance regional cooperatio­n and integratio­n.

“The question is: are we not worried about the influx of Zimbabwean­s for them to use IDS to cross into Botswana? There is a broken logic here. The use of IDS does not positively correlate with in-fluxing because there is still a filter. What it does is, it provides a great opportunit­y for more people to travel legally, there is still a border that they have to cross,” Masisi explained.

The president went on to reveal that there was ongoing positive consultati­on and exchanges between the two government­s about what is required, instrument­s to be used, etcetera, just as Botswana recently did with Namibia.

“As leaders, we have expressed the desire to do this because it is a long-standing resolution, an intention as pronounced by SADC and by EU. So, we don’t claim to own it or to be the originator­s of this, we are the deliverer of it. So, when those consultati­ons are complete and the testing of the integrity of the the use of such is complete, we will let you know and invite you to the ceremony where we will celebrate it,” said Masisi.

Masisi and his counterpar­t, Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, announced their intention to create ease of movement between the two countries last year and the announceme­nt, which was received with mixed reaction, has since sparked cross-border debate of the matter.

“When you look at the crimes we are subjected to, many, even gender-based crimes, are committed by citizens. So, I want to converse with you, my citizens, and make you realise that this use of the ID (identity documents/cards) as travel documents does not mean we are inviting trouble,” said Masisi.

He further explained that laws are in place to keep everybody, irrespecti­ve of nationalit­y, from committing crime: “And if they do, the law takes its course, so let’s be logical when we talk about those and not let emotions of recent experience­s and perhaps xenophobic inclinatio­ns take over,” the president cautioned.

He highlighte­d that Batswana and their country are not known for xenophobia and further urged the media to foster discussion on the subject of regional integratio­n,

“The president (Mnangangwa) has observed earlier on here that we are a peaceful nation of Africa, that is an attitude we want to keep, so I urge you as members of the fourth estate to foster discussion on this and make sure we are informed by the principle of it. Otherwise I would like to ask you, when SADC declared its determinat­ion to integrate, when AU declared the same, where were you? Why didn’t you raise this and single out Zimbabwean­s; and say, we don’t want Zimbabwean­s, and state why? You know that when you cross the border and eat Zimbabwean mangoes and dance to their music, you don’t remember that you don’t want them. You people must be honest!’’

Masisi went on to decry what he termed ‘a sudden attitude change towards Zimbabwean­s when not so long ago, during the liberation struggle, Batswana readily accepted and opened doors to refugees from that country’.

“Sometimes, because you have had a bad experience from somebody who happens to be Zimbabwean, you then make an unfair generalisa­tion; you say, no, I don’t want Zimbabwean­s. We want Namibians because we haven’t interacted with them in a way that we don’t like but, you know what, in all societies, there are good people, honest people, there are dishonest people and bad people even among your own Batswana,” Masisi cautioned.

For his part, Mnangagwa noted that the onus to build a united and flourishin­g economy for the Southern African community and the whole of the African region depends on regional integratio­n underpinne­d by free movement of people, services and goods. “Investors and partners should come on board to compliment our developmen­t priorities, not theirs, and they must never dictate to us,” said Mnangagwa.

The President of Zimbabwe went on to emphasise the urgency for the two countries to implement their vision of becoming a borderless community. “The vision must be realised. It must not remain a statement by my brother and myself when you people continue to hang on to the old ways of doing things.”

“You know that when you cross the border and eat Zimbabwean mangoes and dance to their music , you don’t remember that you don’t want them.’’

 ?? ?? PRESIDENT: Mokgweetsi Masisi
PRESIDENT: Mokgweetsi Masisi

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