THE government of Botswana is going ahead with the construction of a 500-km stretch of electric security fence along its border with Zimbabwe despite protests by Harare and
fears of a diplomatic backlash.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana are deteriorating fast with the Botswana government accusing Zimbabweans of illegally entering the country and engaging in illegal activities.
Sources said meetings between Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge and his Botswana counterpart Mompathi Merafhe on the matter have failed to prevent Botswana erecting the fence.
Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Botswana, Phelekezela Mphoko, was last week quoted in the Botswana media saying Gaborone was “trying to create a Gaza Strip”.
Botswana said last week it was going ahead with erecting the electric fence to stop the movement of animals into the country to stem the spread of the contagious foot-and- mouth disease (FMD).
Sources in Botswana told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that so far over 167 kilometres of game-proof fence had been constructed along its common border with Zimbabwe.
They said sections of the fence had already been electrified and were posing a real danger to human life.
“The Botswana government says the fence is to prevent foot-and-mouth infected animals crossing the border but what is amazing is the fact that the fence being erected is four metres high,” said one source.
Botswana has said it deports over 2 500 Zimbabweans a month fleeing President Mugabe’s political repression and hunger.
Zimbabweans returning from Botswana said there was a heavy army and police presence along the border between Botswana and Zimbabwe.
“Ever since Zimbabweans started crossing the border in search of fuel and employment, the number of security details and the harassment of Zimbabweans has increased at the border and it is getting worse with each passing day,” said a Zimbabwean trader who visits Botswana frequently.