Borders are very important and necessary for many reasons. Most of the reasons that come to mind are the fight against crime. Criminal syndicates, from poachers, drug dealers and even human traffickers, use borders to carry out their crimes. Cross-border crime usually involves large-scale criminal activities that normally involves large chains of people, cutting across a lot of borders, from one country to another.
During the liberation struggle, Botswana, a landlocked country at the centre of the southern Africa sub-continent, found itself surrounded by a raging political fire as liberation movements fought minority governments led by or supported by colonial powers in Europe. In the north we had Zambia and Zimbabwe where the liberation struggle heating up. The same was happening in Namibia and Angola. Being the only country in the region that was not going through political turmoil, Botswana offered a good opportunity for liberation activists running away from their countries. It was to become a perfect hide-out. That is, up until the regimes especially in South Africa, realised that banned organisations like the African National Congress and others held secret meetings in Botswana and also hid some of the most wanted people here. The likes of liberation icon, who later became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, used to hide in Lobatse. He would use the home of Fish Keitseng, his comrade based in Botswana, as a transit point to go to countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and others for important rendezvous with fellow ANC leaders and supporters. Because of geopolitics, even to date, Botswana remains a transit point for all sorts of things, the good, the bad and the ugly. Put in the much touted high democratic principles and you get a Botswana that is more attractive and by extension, a haven for various kinds of people who seek different things in their lives. Due to the dire economic situation in Zimbabwe, the country has experienced southern Africa’s biggest migrations as its citizens trekked away to look for greener pastures. Though some went to South Africa, others came here. Unfortunately some of them were coming through ungazetted points. In fact the various points that we share the border with South Africa and Zimbabwe are porous. This makes it very difficult to control the entry of people and goods into Botswana. Worse, due to the lucrative nature of cross border crimes like drug smuggling, human trafficking and many others, the criminals are becoming more sophisticated and employing daring and difficult to detect means to gain entry into the country. Now we are told that there is an outbreak of the deadly Ebola which is at the moment concentrated in some of the countries in West Africa. It spreads through contact with human fluids. Though measures have been put by countries to minimise chances of disease spread due to the movement of people from one country to another, we cannot be too sure that infected people can all be identified at entry points as some of them will use the same ungazetted points to come in. it is therefore necessary that as people we become vigilant and report to either the police or health authorities any signs that we see among people, associated with the disease.