Botswana-based Zimbabweans want to remain

Aerial view of part of Gabarone

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
22 July 2014

A Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition delegation has found that Zimbabweans who are living in Botswana believe that they are better off living in that country.

A seven member delegation was dispatched to Gaborone soon after Botswana’s defence minister Ramadeluka Seretse was quoted in the press saying it was now safe for Zimbabweans to return to their country because the situation had improved.

But delegation leader Joy Mabenge had spoken to Zimbabweans who said despite the challenges they were facing, such as xenophobia, they would rather remain in Botswana. He said: ‘Of course no one can ever be happy to be away from their home but Zimbabweans said they are better off there. There is a feeling among them that if they return they will be worse off and we think they are right.’

Mabenge said they went to Botswana to ‘raise a red flag’ on the ever deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe and to meet with the government officials and interest groups on the Zimbabwean situation. Mabenge, who is also the coalition’s regional coordinator, said the visit was part of the organisation’s programme of lobbying regional institutions and governments.

Mabenge told SW Radio Africa’s Diaspora Diaries programme that their meetings with government officials and the civil society were ‘positive’. He said while he could not guarantee that there would be no immediate deportations of Zimbabweans they got the sense that Gaborone was willing to ‘listen’ to different views.

The threat by the Botswana government to deport Zimbabweans came at a time when hundreds of thousands are waiting to hear if they will be allowed to continue living in South Africa. The South African Home Affairs department has said it will announce its decision by August.
Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera said if Zimbabwean exiles in both Botswana and South Africa are forced to return there could be devastating effects on the economy because there are neither jobs nor incentives to start businesses.

The Botswana government’s pronouncements that Zimbabwe was now safe shocked many people. Botswana has for a long time been known for its view that the Zimbabwean government was responsible for the crisis because of its policies and human rights violations.

Last year Botswana expressed its dissatisfaction with SADC for failing to abide by its own protocols after Zimbabwe’s disputed July 31st election. President Ian Khama said Botswana would no longer participate in the regional body’s election observer missions.



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