ZIMBABWE and Botswana yesterday moved closer to abolishing passports to allow citizens from both countries to travel freely across borders without travel documents.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he held discussions with his Motswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi for the passport-free travel arrangement.
“I have been talking to my brother here after he was making statement that and we have agreed [sic], and I can announce, that from now on we shall instruct our officials that there should be no question of how to enter Zimbabwe, how to enter Botswana,” Mnangagwa said while speaking at the fifth annual Kusi Ideas Festival in Gaborone yesterday.
“That should be cleared. The two of us have agreed, realising that we are African. We should be able to walk into Botswana, walk into Zambia, walk into Kenya.
“We have just agreed while sitting that ‘my brother, why do we restrict ourselves?”
The Kusi Ideas Festival was co-hosted by the Botswana government and the Nation Media Group of Kenya.
Mnangagwa said there was no need to respect borders that were established by the country’s former colonisers.
“Somebody said in the past when we were all together, the Global North came and made boundaries,” he said.
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“So why should we continue to respect this, let us open the borders among ourselves and move freely.”
Zimbabwe will become the second country after Namibia to dispense with passports for citizens visiting either country.
Botswana and Namibia signed a similar agreement in February this year to become the first countries in southern Africa to abolish the use of passports to travel between them.
A 2022 Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency report says Botswana is home to the second-largest population of Zimbabwean emigrants, after South Africa.
The report said Botswana had at least 5% of Zimbabwean citizens residing outside the country.