By Mashudu Netsianda
Botswana has dismissed reports circulating on social media alleging that the neighbouring country has embarked on forceful deportations of more than 200 Zimbabweans from its territory as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In a statement posted on its official Twitter Page, Botswana’s International Affairs and Cooperation Ministry said the recent repatriation exercise was undertaken jointly with Zimbabwe following requests by Zimbabweans who wanted to be assisted to return home when the neighbouring country imposed lockdown measures.
“The Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation notes with deep concern the misinformation and distorted reports on social media platforms purporting that the Government of Botswana has embarked on forceful deportation of Zimbabwean nationals.
“The assertion being made is completely inaccurate and the fact of the matter is that the recent repatriation exercise was undertaken jointly with the Government of Zimbabwe, following requests from Zimbabwean nationals who wanted to be assisted to return home amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the lockdown measures put in place,” read the statement.
Botswana said the latest group of 255 returnees brought into the country on Thursday last week through Ramokgwebana Border Post were voluntarily repatriated by road and received by Zimbabwean authorities.
The statement said Botswana and Zimbabwe enjoy excellent relations dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.
“In appreciating the consequences of the lockdown on movement restrictions and in keeping with the spirit of the exercise, none of the repatriated individuals was charged for breaching immigration rules,” reads the statement
The Ministry said Botswana and Zimbabwe remain committed to working closely together in responding to the Covid-19 outbreak and mitigating its impact on both countries as well as on the livelihood of their nationals. The Chronicle