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President Masisi says sanctions drive Zimbabweans to commit crimes in Botswana

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi says targeted sanctions imposed by the West on ruling Zanu PF officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, are forcing desperate Zimbabweans to commit crimes in the neighboring country.

Masisi was speaking at a cattle handover event to compensate victims of cross-border cattle rustling in Mabolwe, a town near the border with Zimbabwe.

He said those who cross into Botswana to commit crimes mostly do so because of the adverse effects of sanctions.

There is rampant cattle rustling between the two countries’ common border, and Masisi’s government compensates villagers with more than 2,800 animals worth P35 million (US$3 million).

Part of the cattle given to the villagers by Mokgweetsi Masisi

Part of the cattle given to the villagers by Mokgweetsi Masisi

“It is essential that I thank President Mnangagwa, my counterpart. He went out of his way to help. We are friends of Zimbabwe, but some, even in our own parliament, do not understand why we are friends of Zimbabwe. Previously our administration openly punished Zimbabwe. But I won’t do that. Zimbabweans are our relatives and you don’t criticize your neighbor like that,” Masisi said.

The president said that if he did not handle the issue of cattle rustling diplomatically, the challenge was likely to persist.

However, Masisi said he will never allow Botswanans to be harassed in their own country. Cattle rustlers crossing from Zimbabwe reportedly unleashed a reign of terror in often violent clashes with locals as they advanced in groups armed with machetes, among others.

Meanwhile, Masisi criticized the West for imposing targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“There are some countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, believing that there are certain governance issues that are not being addressed well. Even here (in Botswana), we have some who believe that and say that there is no rule of law, that there is a dictatorship in Zimbabwe and that as Botswana, we should openly express our concern. But I won’t do that. I will have a civil engagement with Zimbabwe,” he stated.

Masisi said: “If they have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, they are our neighbors (and) if their neighbor does not have salt, they ask for salt. If your neighbor’s children are hungry and you are not there, the naughty people come in and steal. Zimbabweans come here and steal to survive. “They don’t do it to get rich, but to put something in their stomach.”

Masisi urged countries that have imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe to engage in dialogue to find common ground.

“We do not agree with the sanctions. If you have differences with someone, talk to them. I am glad that countries like the United States have listened to my request to remove sanctions. “We beg Western countries to lift sanctions.”

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