from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – NEIGHBOURS Botswana and Zimbabwe seek close
cooperation to tackle cross-border crime, particularly livestock rustling and poaching.
Border jumping and human trafficking are other concerns at the borders.
The two countries share close to 1 000-km border stretching from Kazungula on the border with Zambia to eastern Plumtree on the border with South Africa.
Wildlife is a key draw card for tourism and poachers thus pose a threat to this natural heritage, according to wildlife activists and environmentalists.
Prevalence of livestock rustling was top on the discussions despite not being on the agenda at the just ended third session of Bi-National Commission between Zimbabwe and Botswana in Victoria Falls.
The meeting resolved to include the issue on the agenda for the fourth session to be held in Botswana.
This would aim to find a lasting solution to the crime that has become sophisticated and organized.
The two countries have now signed 25 agreements and want to add another on cooperation on dealing with livestock rustling, which is also a threat to the economies and security.
Botswana is mostly affected by livestock theft while Zimbabwe is largely impacted by wildlife poaching.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana said a joint framework and committee will be established to deal with the crime.
“There are also some issues of mutual interest that we need to address as a matter of urgency. These include the issue of livestock theft along our common borders which has over the years morphed into a much bigger problem of livestock rustling,” he added.
“Livestock is a major investment for many or our ordinary citizens and theft has far reaching implications not only to livelihoods of affected communities, security, welfare and health, but also to the socio-economic development of the two countries,” Masisi said.
A joint committee comprising all government agencies of the two countries will be established.
The committee will coordinate efforts to address issues of livestock rustling and other cross border crimes such as poaching.
“Since the issue of livestock rustling is not just a problem between Botswana and Zimbabwe, we have agreed to initiate a process towards the development of a regional instrument on the combating livestock rusting,” Masisi said.
He believes this will assist in fostering regional cooperation in the efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate livestock rustling and related cross border criminal activities.
Zimbabwe Ambassador to Botswana, Batsirai Mukonoweshuro, recently visited some of the affected areas where cross border crime is prevalent.
– CAJ News