Botswana has set up an official commission of inquiry into cattle rustling on its border with Zimbabwe as tension mounts between communities living along the two countries’ borders.
Zimbabweans are accused of attacking villagers in Botswana along the border where they seized cattle, which they brought back to their country.
Botswana Vice President Slumber Tsogwane appointed a nine-member commission of inquiry on Monday.
The commission will look at the theft in the Bobirwa constituency along the Tuli River in Botswana, on the border with Zimbabwe.
“The mandate of the commission of inquiry is to establish the problem of cattle rustling in Bobirwa villages along the Botswana / Zimbabwe border and to determine the extent of the problem,” the Botswana government said in a statement.
He said the commission must also “establish how long the problem of cattle rustling in the region has existed, what are the causes and who are the main players.”
The commission will also establish “whether there has been displacement of farmers in the region as a result of cattle rustling, and how this has affected diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
Commissioners were urged to engage “Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana in recognition of being a critical stakeholder in the issue”.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently visited the Bobirwa region where he pledged to take tough action against Zimbabwe cattle thieves who he said was causing insecurity in the border area.
Tension between Zimbabwean and Botswana border communities has increased over the years due to Gaborone’s shoot-to-kill policy when cattle from Zimbabwean villagers stray into its territory.
Botswana says it has no choice but to slaughter stray cattle to stop the spread of highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease.
Last year Zimbabwe said 30,000 head of cattle from Botswana border regions entered the neighboring country in seven months.