Samora Machel In Botswana (4)

We left off in March 21, 1963, with Samora Machel and his comrades Matias Mboa and Angelo Vasoues de Lisboa having collectively undergone vetting by the head of the BP Special Branch’s Southern Division, Inspector Innes-Ker.

In the aftermath of the interview the trio were given extended permits on the assumption that they would ultimately be able to make further arrangements to proceed to Tanganyika, their intended destination.

But, Innes-Ker’s apparent acceptance of their protected status as political refugees in transit was not shared by others in the colonial establishment.

With the BP’s substantive Resident Commissioner, Peter Fawcus, on leave, on the March 28, 1963 his acting replacement, J.F. Hayley filed a report with the High Commissioner in Cape Town which noted: “You will be concerned to learn that we now have three members of the Front National Liberation of Mozambique, who sought political asylum in Francistown 10 days ago, having travelled to the Protectorate via Swaziland and the Transvaal without travel documents.”

“They stated that the wish to get to Tanganyika, that the journey through Mozambique to Dar-es-Salaam is too dangerous so they preferred the route through the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and they hear the Bechuanaland People’s Party would assist them as they were Pan-Africanists.

“Since they appear in no way to be genuine refugees, we are considering cancelling their resident permits, deeming them prohibited immigrants and requiring them to depart forthwith.”

The above course of action was adopted as a recommendation at the April 1963 meeting of the BP Central Intelligence Committee (CIC). Under “New Development” paragraph 16 of the Committee’s draft report recorded that; “In March 1963, three Portuguese ‘student refugees’ entered territory en route to Tanganyika having passed through the Republic. From initial investigations it appears that they are genuine students wishing to further their education. Although admitting membership of the Portuguese Nationalist Movement they stated that they had only joined for opportunities of scholarships such membership offered. They stated that the route used by them was blazed at their own initiative. Should they eventually arrive safely in Tanganyika it is not improbable that the same route will be used by succeeding students. It is impossible to estimate probable traffic.”

The minutes of the meeting ominously further stated that: “The draft of the C.I.C report was approved with minor amendments agreed by the Committee. During the discussion of the report the Committee was advised of the fact that three Africans of Portuguese East Africa national status had entered the Protectorate via Swaziland and the Transvaal. These persons were reportedly travelling to Tanganyika and have said that it was easier and safer for them to travel to the Protectorate than to make their way through the length of Mozambique. The Committee, in light of this information, recommended that the Government should consider action to put a stop to such traffic from of P.E.A. and to cause the three persons referred to above to leave the territory forthwith.”

The above recommendation was, however, ultimately vetoed by Fawcus upon his return, who was undoubtedly acting with advice from above in accordance with the then prevailing policy.

The Subsequent May 1, 1963 CIC report noted: “With reference to paragraph 16, the Commissioner of Police reported that these three people were still in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and as far as he was aware were awaiting funds for onward journey.”

In the weeks that followed a fourth Mozambican named Armando Pinto Chungwane also appeared in Lobatse.

The now four Mozambicans were finally evacuated to Tanzania in June of 1963.

Records show that de Lisboa Mucavel and Chugwane departed together on June 14, 1963, from Lobatse to Mbeya with two other South African refugees in a small Bechuanaland Air Safaris plane piloted by Captain Herbert Bartuane.

The above flight followed Telegram dated June 4, 1963 from Kearsley Travel, Dar-es-Salaam to Bartaune of B.P. Safaris with K.T. Motsete listed as a contact, requesting: “Arrange to fly five refugees to Dar-es-Salaam. Instructions Dr. Mondlane advise cost and date soonest. We will guarantee payment by draft on invoice. Grateful you investigate possibility to obtain permission to land Dakota in Serowe. Evacuation purposes as Francistown unco-operative.”

For their part Machel and Mboa finally departed from Francistown a week later aboard a chartered Dakota Aircraft, which had been sent to Francistown to further evacuate a number of high profile South African refugee including ANC/Communist luminaries Joe Slovo and J.B. Marks. The flight following BP administration authorisation of EEA landings at the Aerodrome. Machel and Mboa’s place aboard the aircraft had been negotiated with the ANC by FRELIMO with who Machel and Mboa had been able to contact:

Mboa: “We communicated through letters with the comrades in Tanzania and informed Doctor Mondlane that we were detained in Botswana and there was no possibility of leaving. He promised to find a solution and subsequently got us a ride on a plane chartered by the ANC.”

The chartered EAA DC 3 thus finally took off from Francistown on June 21, 1963 with Machel and Mboa listed amongst “26 South African students” who joined by Joe Slovo and Joseph “JB” Marks on board. After layover in Blantyre they arrived in Dar es Salaam on June 23, 1963.

Editor's Comment
Seamless Business Environment Needed Post-COVID

The country was also classified as the least corrupt in the world with strong anti-graft checks and balances. With these assurances, investors were guaranteed safety on their investments and returns. That is no longer the case. Several countries like Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius have done well over the years and overtaken Botswana as attractive places to do business.Therefore, when countries that Botswana is competing with for a piece of...

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