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‘We can’t control Batswana chiefs’

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Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe’S major obstacle in stopping Botswana authorities from beating up Zimbabwean nationals was that Gaborone statutes allowed traditional leaders to impose punishments like flogging offenders, legislators heard yesterday.

Officer Commanding Minerals and Border Control Unit, Senior Assistant Earnest Muchenjekwa said they held several meetings with authorities in Botswana on the need to observe human rights, but the practice had not yet stopped.

Snr Asst Comm Muchenjekwa, who was accompanying the secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Melusi Matshiya was giving oral evidence before a Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security chaired by Mashonaland Central Committee Senator Damien Mumvuri (Zanu-PF).

Bulawayo Senator Agnes Sibanda (MDC-T) had asked what Government was doing to ensure that Botswana stops beating up Zimbabwean nationals who fail to produce valid documents to justify their stay.

Sen Sibanda said while Botswana authorities flogged Zimbabwean nationals, authorities in Harare treated suspects from Gaborone with dignity.

Snr Asst Comm Muchenjekwa said they had convened several meetings, but the scourge had not yet stopped.

“On deportees being beaten up, we have on several times taken our counterparts in Botswana on a roundtable, trying to impress on them on the observance of human rights. One problem is that traditional leaders in Botswana have the right to impose some punishment on offenders,” said Snr Asst Comm Muchenjekwa.

He said despite the continued flogging of Zimbabwean nationals, the incidents had generally declined.

Snr Asst Comm Muchenjekwa said they would continue to engage authorities in Botswana.

Responding to another question, Mr Matshiya said it would take authority from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his ministry to issue diplomatic passports.

Harare Senator Theresa Makone (MDC-T) had asked why Government did not allow legislators to pay in order to get diplomatic passports if the impediment was that of financial constraints as what Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi had intimated in one of their interactions.

Sen Makone said they were embarrassed during international trips when they queued alongside ordinary persons, yet legislators from other countries enjoyed travelling on diplomatic passports.

“I simply need authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Everyone applies to that ministry even myself. As the permanent secretary of Home Affairs, I could just tell Registrar General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede to give me, but I do not do that. I have to apply to that ministry,” said Mr Matshiya.

On human trafficking, Mr Matshiya said they were carrying out a lot of awareness activities to conscientise people on the vice.

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