Ntwaagae’s response follows a travel advisory, his ministry issued last week cautioning Botswana citizens wishing to travel to Zimbabwe to “exercise caution and avoid situations that may precipitate their arrest.”
In essence, the cautionary is an admission on the part of Botswana of the existence of diplomatic tensions between the two countries, especially in view of recent events in which Batswana were arrested in Zimbabwe under questionable circumstances.
Ntwaagae admits that the travel advisory was issued in response to past incidents of arrest of Botswana citizens in Zimbabwe, but denied that there was any intention on their part to impose a travel ban on Botswana citizens wishing to visit troubled Zimbabwe.
“No travel ban is intended at all. Botswana and Zimbabwe enjoy the best of relations at a diplomatic level. We are also aware that there is a lot of affinity between Batswana and Zimbabweans and that the citizens of both countries visit each other’s country for various reasons, so any suggestions of a travel ban would be far fetched,” Ntwaagae told Mmegi.
Ntwaagae denied that the essence of the advisory has potential to cause offence to Zimbabwe’s authorities. “It is normal to issue an advisory of this nature.
The advisory is directed at our own people, and we are not pointing a finger at Zimbabwe nor are we passing judgement regarding anything that may have happened in the past,” he added.
The travel advisory by the Botswana government comes in the wake of the May 8 arrest and detention of three Batswana employees of Debswana who were picked under questionable circumstances while returning from a day’s excursion to Victoria Falls.
The trios – Andrew Tlou, Moses Kgagamadi and Dan Tselaesele – were part of a group of HIV/AIDS Peer Educators and programme officials who had gone on an incentive trip to Kasane.
Following the arrests, Tlou and Kgagamadi were convicted under unspecified charges and sentenced to three months imprisonment. They were later released on bail together with Tselaesele.
Before then, Freelance journalist Nomsa Ndlovu of Mmegi was reported to have been tortured in a police holding cell after she was arrested for wearing camouflage clothing while on a short visit to Zimbabwe.
Last year a reporter and a camera woman working for Botswana television were arrested by Zimbabwean police near the two countries’ border at Matsiloje while on an assignment to cover a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) story in the area. Their case is said to have cost the Botswana government a substantial amount of money in litigation costs- CAJ News
By Mtokozisi Dube
BOTSWANA government has no intentions of imposing a travel ban on its citizens wishing to visit strife-torn neighbouring Zimbabwe, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Charles Ntwaagae, has said.