BOTSWANA has deported more than 135 000 Zimbabweans through the three western region border posts between January 2009 and July this year. Of late the neighbouring country has intensified measures to drive Zimbabweans out of its territory.
Recently it deported a 96-year-old man who had lived in the country for 70 years. The 96-year-old man, Mr Alfred Khumalo, was dragged from his hospital bed in Selebi-Phikwe by Botswana immigration officials and is admitted to Plumtree District Hospital.
In an interview yesterday, the assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge of western region, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said Botswana was also reluctant to renew permits for Zimbabweans lawfully employed in the neighbouring country.
According to statistics between January and July this year, Botswana has deported about 15 400 Zimbabweans through Maitengwe, Mphoengs and Plumtree border posts compared to 9 175 during the same period last year.
“Our figures for this year are quite alarming as we have handled 15 392 deportees between January and July for the three border posts. This is about 2 000 less than last year’s annual figure of 17 402,” he said.
Plumtree Border Post, the busiest entry point in the western region, has handled 12 240 deportations this year. Mr Ncube said the deportations which had been on the decrease over the past four years were gradually increasing.
“Over the past four years the figures were gradually dropping but they are on the increase again. In 2009 we handled 48 898 deportees, in 2010 we handled 32 016 and 22 288 were handled in 2011.
“We have realised this increase because Botswana seems reluctant to renew work permits for Zimbabweans,” said Mr Ncube.
Meanwhile, Mr Ncube said the immigration office was awaiting the electrification of Mphoengs Border Post.
“The Zesa office has completed all the modalities needed for electrification of Mphoengs Border Post. We are expecting the complex to be electrified anytime soon.
“It handles travellers mainly from Mangwe and Kezi districts and this eases congestion at the Plumtree Border Post during holidays,” he said.
Mr Ncube said officials at Maitengwe Border Post in Bulilima were still operating from temporary structures as work on the administration block was yet to be completed. He said the poor state of the border’s road network made accessing the border post a challenge.