Masisi insists Zim-Bots passport requirements should go

Local News
Masisi said the move would reduce the increase in illegal movements between the two countries and will assist Zimbabweans who cannot afford passports.

BOTSWANA President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said he sees the removal of passport requirements between Zimbabwe and South Africa in line with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) guidelines and good neighbourliness.

Masisi said the move would reduce the increase in illegal movements between the two countries and will assist Zimbabweans who cannot afford passports.

Zimbabwean passports are the most expensive in the region with the cheapest pegged at US$150 although there is an additional mandatory US$20 required for the travel document.

In a budget response speech three days ago and whose video clip has gone viral, Masisi said some people living Botswana near its border with Zimbabwe or vice-versa had relatives in either country that needed to attend family functions.

“So, when such relatives want to visit their kin, given the expensive fee of the passport let alone prices of food why deny them entry using an ID (identity card)?” queried Masisi.

“Because they have to attend family events like weddings, parties, funerals, why do you say they should be denied entry at the border posts using their IDs.”

Masisi added: I am implementing the AU (African Union) and Sadc instruments I am signatory to in respect to easier migration and do take that into consideration. I don’t condone your segregatory attitude.  When we did that with Namibia you didn’t object but now because it is Zimbabwe you are looking down upon them, segregating them, adopting xenophobic tendencies.”

“You hate people, but I want to assure you, dare you even, if we were to check your phone contacts many of you have illegal Zimbabweans phone numbers because you are using them for all kinds of duties. I want to make sure there is legitimate entry,” Masisi said.

He was implying that superficially several Tswana lawmakers disliked Zimbabweans yet in real life they employ many of them illegally in that country for odd jobs.

“We will make sure to collect their full data at the border posts to create databases. We are trying to make them law abiding and its good governance. It’s good neighbourliness,” Masisi said.

He asked his fellow legislators not to undermine his decision and move he said was based on building good relationship with neighbouring countries.

Botswana and Namibia on February 22 last year removed the passport requirements making it easier for citizens of the two countries to cross the border using an ID.

“Precisely we used to be looked down upon by the Namibians and you have now adopted that bad attitude, who taught you that,” he asked some of his colleagues seemingly uncomfortable with the envisaged development.

“That attitude should stop forthwith. Do not ever repeat that derogatory name calling. You used to buy a lot from Zimbabwe.

“You might not like them, yes, but wait until you are in power then you can chase them away. I stand by my action. I am glad Kenny Kapinga, former Ambassador to Zimbabwe is agreeing with me. That is why he is nodding his head,” Masisi said.

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