The Government of Botswana has approved a decision to deploy a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) contingent along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.
Information leaked to The Sunday Standard suggests that both the government and Defence Council have taken a decision to deploy members of the BDF, allegedly with heavy artillery, along the long boarder between the two neighbours.
It is understood that the heavy deployment of BDF is to repel any military attack that might erupt due to the political unrest and tension prevailing in Zimbabwe.
In a brief interview with Sunday Standard on Friday evening, the minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Brigadier Dikgakgamatso Seretse, said, “This is a very sensitive matter, therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny any deployment of soldiers along the Zimbabwe-Botswana boarder.”
Botswana has been at the centre of war talk as the Zimbabwean crisis escalates. Bloomberg this week alleged that President Lt Gen Ian Khama had said Botswana would act unilaterally against the Robert Mugabe regime.
The Office of the President on Thursday issued a press statement rebutting “the content contained in an article published by Bloomberg news service under the provocative headline:
“Botswana Threatens to take action in Zimbabwe Political crisis”.
The statement, signed by government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, explained that “The opening paragraph of the said article misleadingly implies that His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, at a meeting
with business leaders yesterday, “threatened to take action against Zimbabwe if southern African leaders fail to address the political crisis in the neighbouring country”.
”The implication of both the headline and opening paragraph are a serious distortion of the actual content, as well as evident intent, of His Excellency’s observations.
It has never been the policy of Botswana to threaten any other member of the international community. In this respect, we would humbly note that the publication of the above text, without its proper context, can all too
easily become a pretext for distorting Botswana’s true position.
”At yesterday’s gathering, the President, in fact, indicated that Botswana was, for its part, prepared to continue to make its own modest contribution to wider mediation efforts.
“Botswana has been engaged in discussions with officials from Zimbabwe and other stakeholders in an ongoing effort to achieve greater understanding.”
A political analyst at the University of Botswana, Dr Wazha Morapedi, said, “It is clear that civil war is looming and each country has to protect its territory by all means but Botswana cannot manage to go it alone in military action.”
He further said that once the situation is out of control, Zimbabweans might then flock into Botswana and that might cause problems like the escalation of crime, triggering xenophobia.
Dr Christian Makgala said Botswana can only afford military intervention in partnership with South Africa, which is more experienced and resourced.
Makgala said it is possible that civil war might erupt and Zimbabweans might experience xenophobic attacks from Batswana but not on a scale comparable to the one in South Africa several weeks ago.