By A Correspondent- Botswana’s presidency has ordered an official inquiry into livestock theft on his country’s border with Zimbabwe, the government announced on Monday.
Acting President Slumber Tsogwane named a nine-member commission for the inquiry to be conducted in Bobirwa constituency, across the Tuli River in Matabeleland South which for several kilometres serves as the border between the two countries.
A statement accompanying the appointment of the commission said:
4. The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry shall be as follows —
(a) To establish the problem of livestock rustling in the Bobirwa villages along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border, and determine the extent of the problem;
(b) To establish how long the problem of livestock rustling in the area has been in existence, what causes or caused it, and who are the key players;
(c) To further establish, from the perspective of the community what was done to address the problem and any mitigating measures initiated by the community to deal with the problem;
(d) To establish the existence of any cross-border livestock rustling management/mitigation strategy by law enforcement agencies, and what gaps exist in that strategy;
(e) To establish what compromises the effectiveness of the management/mitigating strategy referred to above;
(f) To seek input from the community as to what the socio-economic, political, security risks, etc., that may result from the livestock rustling are; its consequences on the livelihood of people in the area; and the measures that can be put in place to mitigate these risks;
(g) To establish whether or not there has been a displacement of farmers in the area as a result of the livestock rustling and how it has affected the diplomatic relations of the two countries;
(h) To engage the Ambassador of Zimbabwe based in Botswana in recognition of being a critical stakeholder in the matter;
(i) Based on the findings from paragraphs (a) to (g) of the Terms of Reference, make appropriate and long lasting recommendations to His Excellency the President on the mitigation measures to address the problem of livestock rustling in some villages in the Bobirwa constituency along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border;
Tensions among communities on either side of the border have been a common feature over the last decade – but most caused by Botswana’s shoot-to-kill policy when Zimbabwean farmers’ livestock stray into its territory.
Botswana has defended the policy saying it is stopping the spread of foot and mouth disease.