Influx of Zimbabweans drain Botswana resources, FM says

July 27, 2008
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, JOHANNESBURG, July 27 – Botswana appealed for international help Sunday to ease the impact of an influx of Zimbabweans whom it says are draining its resources.

"The influx of Zimbabweans, whether there is or there is no government (in Harare), is an issue to be dealt with," Foreign Minister Phandu Sekelemani said on South African public broadcaster SA FM.

"We ask the international community to help us because it is a drain on our resources," he said.

"Even after the failed presidential (June 27) run-off, we have more 215 who crossed last week… But we cannot turn them back once they qualify" for refugee status.

According to government sources late last year, Botswana was playing host to an estimated 250,000 Zimbabweans — a number that was growing as conditions under President Robert Mugabe went from bad to worse.

Botswana, Zimbabwe\’s western neighbour, earlier this month urged other nations in southern Africa not to recognise Mugabe\’s re-election in a presidential run-off vote in which he was the only contender.

Sekelemani reiterated calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

"As a country that practices democracy and the rule of law, Botswana does not … recognise the outcome of the presidential run-off election, and would expect other SADC member states to do the same," he said.

"It is therefore Botswana\’s position that Zimbabwe not be allowed to participate in SADC meetings until such time that they demonstrate their commitment to strictly adhere to the organisation\’s principles."

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