By SILAS NKALA
The cross-border theft of stocks prompted Botswana to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the escalating problem.
The initiative comes at a time when both countries have experienced numerous cases of cattle rustling, which has resulted in the loss of cattle by communal farmers along the border.
Botswana Acting President Slumber Tsogwane last week appointed a nine-member commission of inquiry to investigate stock thefts in Botswana’s Bobirwa constituency and along the Tuli River in the province. from South Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.
This was announced in a press release which read: “Notice is hereby given that, in accordance with section 2 as read with section 16 of the Act respecting public inquiry commissions, His Excellency Acting President Tsogwane has launched a commission of inquiry into allegations of cattle rustling. in some villages in Bobirwa constituency along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.
“His Excellency the Acting President appointed the commission of inquiry chaired by Gabriel Seeletso.
He said part of the commission’s mandate would include an investigation into cattle rustling in Bobirwa villages along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border, to determine the extent of the problem and to establish since how long the cattle rustling problem has existed in the territory, its causes and key players.
The commission is also expected to establish what needs to be done to address the issue, as well as determine whether there is a strategy for the management or mitigation of cross-border cattle rustling by law enforcement agencies, and what gaps exist in this strategy.
Community members in affected areas will also be consulted on the socio-economic, political and security risks resulting from cattle rustling, and the consequences on their livelihoods, and the measures that could be put in place to mitigate these risks.
The commission will also establish whether there has been any displacement of farmers affected by cattle rustling, and how diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have been affected.
“Based on the results, lasting recommendations will be made to the president of this country (Zimbabwe) on mitigation measures to address the issue of cattle rustling in the affected areas,” the press release said.
Cattle theft has caused tensions between the two countries over the past decade after Botswana introduced a shoot-out policy to kill any Zimbabwean cattle that stray into neighboring country territory.
Botswana defended the policy, saying it was aimed at stopping the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
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