Botswana wants electric fence along Zim border
By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – A lawmaker from the governing Botswana Democratic Party, Samson Guma-Moyo, has called for the erection of an electric fence along the country’s border with Zimbabwe, as a way of curbing the spread of the foot and mouth disease.
Botswana has constantly blamed stray Zimbabwe livestock for the spread of the disease, which it argues, affects its beef exports to the European Union (EU).
This week, Guma-Moyo, a former junior minister and BDP chairperson, requested the government to re-visit the controversial erection of the electric fence to stop animals from straying.
Botswana once mooted the idea of an electric fence over a decade ago, but Zimbabwe saw the move as a way of keeping out its citizens, who frequently cross into the neighbouring country in search of work.
Guma-Moyo touched the raw nerve when addressing his constituents in Tati East, an area close to the Zimbabwe border. He appealed to the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, President Ian Khama’s brother, to construct the fence.
He said the fence would be ideal to control the movement of particularly cattle which cross from Zimbabwe.
The Botswana government announced a shoot-to-kill policy on stray Zimbabwe cattle, which caused an uproar with Harare authorities pleading for more lenient measures.
Already hundreds of Zimbabwe cattle have been gunned down after straying into Botswana territory.
“We need to attend to the problem of the fence urgently. Killing cattle that have crossed the border into Zimbabwe is not the solution. We are not supposed to suffer because our neighbours do not seem to care,” Moyo is quoted as saying in the local press.
He added locals should not suffer at the expense of Zimbabwe, arguing his government has sufficient cash to construct the fence.
But his remarks have already sparked controversy with critics arguing the project would be a waste of money as illegal immigrants might vandalise the fence.
Zimbabwe previously expressed misgivings about the project which Harare said was meant as a human barrier, and not for livestock.
Botswana has said it spends millions in repatriating Zimbabwean illegal immigrants who enter through undesignated points, destroying the border fence. Gaborone also argues stray Zimbabwe cattle which spread the foot and mouth disease have hurt its beef imports to the EU.