Botswana is still awaiting a detailed briefing from Zimbabwe on the recent uprisings in the neighbouring country, which are highly likely to lead to an influx of immigrants into Botswana.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi said that the Zimbabwean economy is currently imploding.
She said that there is a very real risk of civil commotion taking place in the country soon because millions of Zimbabweans have no access to food and even the government is struggling to timeously pay civil servants their salaries.
Should the worst happen, Botswana will have to accommodate fleeing Zimbabweans most of whom have always considered Botswana their refuge in hard times.
In the 2008 Zimbabwean election chaos, Botswana experienced the highest influx of immigrants who upon arrival scattered around the country with some engaging in criminal activities as a means to survive.
The country struggled to contain them as most detention centres were always full to capacity while some immigrants were seeking asylum. In an interview last week on the country’s readiness for another possible influx of immigrants, Minister Venson-Moitoi said Zimbabwe is a sovereign state whose internal matters should be respected by outsiders until they are invited in.
“We cannot impose ourselves. Our view is that the situation is still manageable. As things stand we will only wait to hear from our Zimbabwean counterparts on the situation and how bad it is,” she said.
Venson-Moitoi continued that whether they are ready for any eventuality or not will depend on the briefing. “Of course we are always ready, but we cannot be running around saying we are preparing for the influx of Zimbabweans into our country,” she said.
Political experts, however, opine that Botswana can no longer rely on the embattled Zimbabwean government, which has shown little regard for human life and dignity on such a serious matter.
They suggest that Botswana should be in the lead trying to get answers as they are always among the first to feel the burden when the situation worsens.
Botswana currently has a fair share of her problems, high amongst them unemployment and a fragile economy, which cannot afford to accommodate thousands of Zimbabweans.
Botswana unfortunately is always Zimbabweans’ first choice owing to its peace and tranquility as well as reception.
Most Batswana still prefer the multi-skilled Zimbabweans, who are generally cheaper and quick to deliver, over locals.
The migration situation may be worsened by the fact that South Africa’s recent xenophobic attacks may have given the Zimbabweans an impression that South Africa is a no-go area.