Victoria Falls (New Ziana) – Livestock rustling along the border areas between Zimbabwe and Botswana, which has escalated into a serious and organised cross-border crime, is a cause for concern that requires urgent and coordinated remedial action, a senior Gaborone official said on Thursday.
The two countries have been experiencing numerous cases of animal theft, which has resulted in communal farmers along the border areas between Zimbabwe and Botswana losing livestock.
Botswana’s International Affairs and Cooperation Minister Lemogang Kwape said the problem, which started off as common stock theft had since morphed into a serious and well organised cross-border crime.
“It continues to rob many farmers of their livestock and relegate them to a life of poverty and destitution,” he said during the Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission underway here.
“There is therefore an urgent need to address 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.”
Late last year, Botswana set up a commission of inquiry into livestock theft on its border with Zimbabwe, in part to establish the key actors in the rustling in Bobirwa constituency along Tuli River in Botswana, at the border with Zimbabwe.
“I wish to express sincere appreciation for the visit to the affected areas in Botswana by the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Botswana, His Excellency Mr. Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, in December 2021, to have an in-depth appreciation of the magnitude of the problem, and its impact on the affected communities.
“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 cobbled together some recommendations to consider in the efforts to effectively address this problem,” he said.
Botswana has in the past implemented a shoot-to-kill policy when Zimbabwean villagers’ livestock strays into its territory.
Botswana has said it has no choice but to shoot the stray livestock as a way of stopping the spread of the highly contagious foot and mouth disease.