A senior government official revealed at the National Security Strategy Review that ended yesterday that the problem is serious where Botswana does not have a border fence.
He told Mmegi after the seminar that there is no treaty over the 850km of boundary line between Botswana and Zimbabwe, which is also not fenced. The official added that the problem is serious at the Kazungula/Zambezi River where there is confusion over where the two countries share the border.
"For 100 years we have known that the Kazungula River is the centre of Botswana/Zambia border, but recently Zimbabwe claimed ownership of the border line. It is the spot where the ferry (pontoon) crosses between Botswana and Zambia," he said.
When one of the beacons along the boundary line between the two countries is accidentally removed, either by wild animals or people, the officials have to hold a convention with their Zimbabwean counterparts to rectify the problem, but sometimes Botswana officials do not get the necessary cooperation, he said.
There is no treaty for the borderline along Botswana-Namibia from Kwando River to Unions End (in the west of the country where South Africa's border line starts) about 2,000km. This is a borderline for which there is no treaty. But there are no problems between the two countries, he said.
From the Unions End to Shalimpo-boundary line between Botswana and South Africa, there is a treaty, but Botswana has not built a border fence, he said. He said that somewhere along the boundary line, around places like Bokspits, there are white-owned farms that cross the international boundary line into South Africa. "This makes it easy for the farmers to smuggle goods, cross-border car theft, human-trafficking and cattle-rustling," he said. It could also be a contributing factor to the influx of illegal immigrants into both countries.
The official is of the view that the owners of the farms are white South Africans who had owned them decades before the independence of Botswana. He said that the South African boundary fence runs through the farms, whilst on the other hand, Botswana has not built a boundary fence. This makes it easy for the farmers to move between the two countries. Botswana has less kilometres of border fence but only relies on the international borderline and that could be the reason for the present state of affairs.
One of the participants said that some farmers along the frontier always deny government agents such as security forces, immigration officers, and census officers access to their property.