Bots, Zim make peace

Staff Writer
Botswana and Zimbabwe have finally made peace, after weeks of tension following the arrest of three Botswana game rangers in Zimbabwe.

So tense was the situation that words that bordered on war talk were even bandied about.

However Botswana yesterday said that it has smoked the peace pipe with the Zimbabwean government.

Mugabe's government angered Botswana after deciding not to release three wildlife rangers who strayed into Zimbabwe near the Lesoma/Pandamatenga area, while tracking a lion that was destroying farmers' property.

The area in question does not have a border fence.

The Zimbabwean government kept the rangers in police cells for three weeks and arraigned them before the courts of law, while their vehicle and guns were impounded.

Efforts by Botswana Government officials, including foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani and Vice President, Mompati Merafhe were frustrated as Zimbabwe's foreign Minister refused to take phone calls from Skelemani, while Robert Mugabe snubbed Merafhe when he made an attempt to discuss the issue with him at an AU Summit.

However the Zimbabwean government

later said that Mugabe had not snubbed Merafhe.

Frustrated, the Botswana government decided to recall its security and intelligence attaches to Harare and set an ultimatum for Zimbabwe to do likewise by end of February.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe went ahead to prosecute the three wildlife officers, although the court handed them a light sentence. Unhappy with the court ruling, the Zimbabwean government appealed it, and declared the three Botswana wildlife officers prohibited immigrants.

The peace agreement should see both countries reversing their decisions.

Botswana permanent secretary for Defense, Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe said yesterday that Botswana was represented by Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse and Botswana's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Gladys Kokorwe. Zimbabwe dispatched a four-strong team of ministers: Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Defence, Patrick Chinamasa, of Justice and Legal Affairs, Sidney Sekeremayi, Minister of National Security and Home Affairs Minister, Giles Mutsekwa.



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