Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Government has said all Zimbabweans who are refugees in other countries should come back home as there is no reason for them to continue living outside the country under the new dispensation.
This comes as Government is working to facilitate the return of 700 people who sought refuge in Botswana during the tenure of ex-President Robert Mugabe.
It is not clear why the Zimbabweans sought refuge in the neighbouring country.
In an interview yesterday, the Minister of Home Affairs and Culture, Dr Obert Mpofu, said he learnt about the refugees during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State visit to Botswana on Monday and Tuesday.
“During President Mnangagwa’s State visit to Botswana, we learnt that we’ve 700 Zimbabweans that are refugees in Botswana. We did not know about them until we visited Botswana. So we discussed with their Minister of Defence, Home Affairs and Immigration and we agreed that I lead a team to Botswana in a few days so that we understand the background to it,” said Dr Mpofu.
He urged the country’s citizens to come back home.
“There is no need for anyone to be out of the country following the new dispensation. We want all our citizens back. There cannot be any reason that we are aware of for their continued stay outside the country. We were advised that the United Nations is involved in this issue.
“It wants to assist in the repatriation of these individuals. But we don’t know who these people are. Our visit will give us further information on who they are,” the Minister said.
Dr Mpofu, who was part of President Mnangagwa’s delegation to Botswana, said he was encouraged by the level of co-operation they received from the neighbouring country.
He said through bi-lateral relations, the countries would address issues of harassment of Zimbabweans working in Botswana as most of them highlighted their plight to President Mnangagwa.
“The President addressed almost a thousand Zimbabweans living in Botswana. The complaint was that of unfair treatment by the authorities and the other issue that came out prominently was about Zimbabweans working in Botswana who highlighted that they are ill-treated and they are not even given employment papers that they are entitled to as employees of companies and individuals,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said Government would work to ensure that the country’s citizens are treated with dignity as they contribute to development in the neighbouring country.
The Minister expressed optimism over the new relations with Botswana saying the neighbouring country’s attitude towards Zimbabwe has changed.
“But generally the attitude of Botswana towards Zimbabweans has drastically changed. Botswana is quite happy that Zimbabwe is now on board in terms of regional and international co-operation,” said the Minister.
Dr Mpofu said both Governments are also working towards addressing the smuggling and trafficking of juveniles between the two countries’ borders.
The Minister said some of the issues that would be discussed between the two countries is how both States can deal with stray cattle. — @nqotshili