While the Heads of State for Botswana and Zimbabwe have prematurely announced the use of National Identity cards by their citizens to move between the two countries, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Anna Mokgethi insists that the initiative should follow all laid down processes before it can be implemented.
Responding to a question in Parliament on Monday, Mokgethi said there was no agreement between the two countries to use ID documents for either country as a travel document.
“Government is still looking into the feasibility of operationalization of this initiative, and this includes looking into processes and requirements for international travel in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards,” she said.
In December, the minister tried to explain this after an announcement by President Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa that the governments had reached an agreement.
It was reported that his announcement prompted Zimbabweans to throng the borders in a bid to cross into Botswana.
MP for Nata-Gweta- Polson Majaga, had wanted the minister to state if she was aware that many Zimbabweans in Botswana were involved in the commission of the most serious crimes such as murder, robbery, and rape.
Majaga also wanted the Minister to state if she would not consider strengthening security patrols along the borderline with Zimbabwe.
Minister Mokgethi said that between 2021 and 2023, a total of 13,189 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants entered the country and that the number has been growing over the years.
“It is also evident that the numbers increase on an annual basis as there were 3,278 irregular migrants in 2021. In 2022 there were 4751 while there were 5160 in 2023,” she said.
The Minister is also aware of involvement of Zimbabwean nationals in criminal activities but was unable to provide Statistics since Botswana Police Service did not have any readily available statistics as they do not have a segregation system.
She added that her ministry regularly undertakes joint patrols with security agencies and conducts anti-crime operations on a quarterly basis targeting irregular migrants to curb crime.
The Prisons Department also do not have readily available statistics on the number of foreign inmates, and the crimes for which they are in prison.