Zimbabweans living in neigbouring countries have been urged to return to their native country to “flush out” Robert Mugabe. This has lead to a congestion at two main border entries, Bietbridge to South Africa and Plumtree town to Botswana.
from our correspondent in Harare
Immigration authorities in Botswana have drastically reduced to only three days the maximum period allowed to Zimbabweans visiting the country.
Officials reportedly say they want Zimbabwean citizens in the country to go back to their own country to participate in the forthcoming elections.
Over the past few weeks the Botswana police and army have rounded up hundreds of Zimbabweans for deportation through the Plumtree border post.
Before the crackdown immigration authorities allowed visiting Zimbabweans to remain in the country for up to 20 days.
The crackdown is code named ” Go and Remove Mugabe”
Meanwhile xenophobic attacks on both legal and illegal Zimbabwean immigrants are reported to be on the increase.
Christine Mwanza, a cross border trader from Bulawayo, said illegal immigrants had been forced to “play cat and mouse with the police and the army to avoid deportation.
“People are playing hide and seek with the police and the army who are out
in full force to deport illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. They say we must go back and vote.
“Even ordinary Tswanas, who usually employ us as labourers, are not mincing
their words. The language is the same. We must go back and vote.”
The Botswana Embassy in Harare could neither confirm nor deny the alleged action on the part of their immigration authorities.
The Botswana government erected an electric fence along the border with Zimbabwe two years ago in an apparent effort to prevent border jumpers from crossing into the country.
Botswana officials, however, deny this, saying the fence was erected as a
measure to prevent the spread of anthrax from Zimbabwe.
Many in Botswana believe Zimbabweans now have the last chance to use the ballot to effect change in their country.
But some Zimbabweans working in Botswana are adamant that they do not need to go back because comrades back home will do the job.
When Mugabe goes around the countryside campaigning, he reminds the people that ZANU-PF fought to liberate their country.
The ZANU-PF leaders also tell peasants that the MDC – Movement for Democratic Change – is a white-sponsored organisation and that the dispossessed white farmers are spoiling for a confrontation in order to get the land back.
Meanwhile, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a coalition of Non-Governmental
Organizations, has urged Zimbabweans living in neighbouring countries to return home next week to vote.
The organisation says it is trying to organise vehicles to ferry Zimbabweans in South Africa back home to participate in the elections next week.
An estimated 3.5 million have fled Zimbabwe to neighbouring South Africa and other countries, some risking their lives to make the trip illegally. They are unwilling to sacrifice everything to return.
Their families have also come to rely on money they send home to Zimbabwe, where economic meltdown with inflation over 100,000 percent partly caused the exodus.
Analysts say the bulk of Zimbabweans who left the country in the last eight years blame Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF for their country’s economic crisis, and would most likely vote against it in the presidential, parliamentary and council polls.
But the country’s laws bar citizens from voting outside the country’s
borders, save for those on national duty — and many are in no position to make the trip home to cast their ballot.
Only Zimbabweans on official government business can use the postal ballot from where ever they may be based.