Masisi-Mnangagwa meet in Maun

Francinah Baaitse
PRESIDENTIAL METING: President Masisi and President Mnangagwa

Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission Held

President of the republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, is scheduled to visit Botswana for the fourth session of Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission (BNC), which will be held in Maun the whole of next week; from Monday 5th February, 2024 until Friday 9th February, 2024, the Office of the President has announced.

One of the topics expected to be discussed at the Maun meeting is passport-free travel between the two countries, an idea which the two presidents have been contemplating since early last year.

Botswana has already adopted the use of identity cards for border-crossing with its neighbour to the West, Namibia.

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However, a proposal to adopt the same idea for Zimbabwe on the North East has so far been met with resistance, especially from border towns and villages which bear the brunt of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe.

When President Masisi brokered the subject at a Kgotla meeting in one of the villages last year, many people raised concerns of compromised security looking at the fact that Zimbabwe is highly populated and its’s economy has been on its knees for decades, resulting in an influx of economic refugees from Zimbabwe mainly into Botswana and South Africa.

Last year, the Zimbabwean government indicated that an estimated 47 000 Zimbabweans left their country for Botswana in the past decade. But the number of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants living in Botswana was not yet known at the time.

As of 2021, Zimbabwe’s population stood at 15.99 million people while Botswana’s population was just above 2 million people (2.588) in the same population census year.

Meanwhile, during the BNC, Zimbabwe traders will attend a Zimbabwe Business Forum at Maun Lodge.

Organised by ZimTrade, the forum, according to Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, is meant to explore trade opportunities for the two countries, “The main objective of the forum is to explore investment and trade opportunities, promote Botswana as an investment destination of choice as well as facilitate possible joint-venture partnerships between Botswana and Zimbabwean companies.”

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The forum is expected to be headlined by Botswana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, and Zimbabwean Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Fredrick Shava.

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