Botswana’s president has ordered an official inquiry into livestock theft on his country’s border with Zimbabwe, the government announced on Monday.
Acting President Slumber Tsogwane named a nine-member commission for the inquiry to be conducted in Bobirwa constituency, across the Tuli River in Matabeleland South which for several kilometers serves as the border between the two countries.
“The terms of reference for the commission of inquiry is to establish the problem of livestock rustling in the Bobirwa villages along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border and determine the extent of the problem,” a statement accompanying the appointment of the commission said.
The commission must also “establish how long the problem of livestock rustling in the area has been in existence, what causes or caused it and who are the key players.”
Giving the commission its marching orders, Tsogwane said it should engage communities along the border to find out what they have done and what they think should be done to solve the problem, as well as the socio-economic risks it presents.
He said the commission has to establish current shortfalls in the existing strategy to stop the problem by security forces.
The commission must also “establish whether there has been displacement of farmers in the area as a result of livestock rustling, and how it has affected diplomatic relations of the two countries” and should engage Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana “in recognition of being a critical stakeholder in the matter,” Tsogwane said.
Tensions among communities on either side of the border have been a common feature over the last decade – but most caused by Botswana’s shoot-to-kill policy when Zimbabwean farmers’ livestock stray into its territory. Botswana has defended the policy saying it is stopping the spread of foot and mouth disease.