Gaborone- Botswana and Zimbabwe are set to enter into talks that will result in the two neighbours signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on reformation of prisoners by exchanging convicted prisoners serving various sentences to complete the remainder of their sentences in their home country.
The 30th Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security has emphasised the need to fast-track the development and adoption of prisoners exchange programme, which would enable foreign offenders to finish their prison sentences in their own countries, a joint communiqué from the two countries has revealed.
The two countries want to emulate Zambia and Malawi which on September 29, 2009 entered into a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on reformation of prisoners.
On September 23, 2012, Malawi and Zambia exchanged 25 prisoners that were convicted and were serving custodial sentences back in their countries of their origin.
Thirteen Zambians who were serving prison terms in Malawi were transferred to complete their remainder of their sentences in Zambia in exchange for 12 Malawian prisoners that were serving their sentences in Zambia.
Meanwhile the Commission commended the Government of Botswana for successfully providing Anti-Retroviral drugs to foreign prisoners.
On other issues, the communiqué emphasised that in the area of public security, the commission noted with satisfaction the cooperation among departments as they dealt with vices that included, among others, smuggling, theft of motor vehicles, cattle rustling, irregular migration, human trafficking, trafficking of precious minerals, drugs and other forms of transnational organised crime.
The commission acknowledged the immense benefits derived by Botswana and Zimbabwe from the five-year joint Foot and Mouth Control Programme that would expire on July 31.
The commission noted the need to review the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and renew it for a further five year period.
The Commission noted with concern the decimation of wildlife through the use of deadly and cruel methods such as cyanide poisoning, which is affecting the entire ecosystem.
In this regard, the Commission urged the relevant departments to continue sharing information to enhance wildlife protection.
With regard to Defence, the Commission observed the need for coordinated and intensified patrols along the common border as well as establishing effective communication links.
The Commission also underscored the need for joint military training exercises in various fields of mutual interest including hosting of joint sporting and cultural activities at national and regional/provincial levels.
The Commission noted the progress made on the re-affirmation of the International Border between Botswana and Zimbabwe and encouraged responsible authorities to conclude the exercise with a view to meet the African Union Border Reaffirmation Programme deadline of 2017.
With regard to regional security, the Commission expressed concern over the continued instances of instability in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and political impasse in Lesotho and hoped for a speedy resolution to all issues impeding democratic principles.
The Commission expressed hope that the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO would continue to make efforts to reach out to each other.
The Commission further expressed concern over the recurring cases of terrorist activities on the African Continent particularly in Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa and the Maghreb region and further noted the potential link between transnational organised crime and terrorism. In that regard, the Commission called on all parties to cut the demand and supply chain for all the commodities fuelling terrorism in the regions.
The Zimbabwe delegation was led by Kembo Campbell Dugishi Mohadi, (MP), Minister of State for National Security. The delegation included Dr. Sydney Tigere Sekeremayi, (Senator), Minister of Defence and Dr. Ignatious Morgan Chiminya CHOMBO, (MP), Minister of Home Affairs.
The Botswana delegation was led by Shaw Kgathi, (MP), Minister of Defence, Justice and Security and included Eric Mothibi Molale, (MP), Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Edwin Jenamiso BATSHU, (MP), Minister of Labour and Home Affairs and Kgotla Autlwetse (MP), Assistant Minister of Agriculture. (Reported by Mpho Tebele)