wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10GABORONE110 2010-02-05 14:24:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Gaborone
Cable title:  

BOTS-ZIM TENSIONS RISE OVER ARRESTED GOB OFFICIALS

Tags:   PREL PBTS ZI BC 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO7599
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHOR #0110 0361424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051424Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6266
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L GABORONE 000110 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/2020
TAGS: PREL PBTS ZI BC
SUBJECT: BOTS-ZIM TENSIONS RISE OVER ARRESTED GOB OFFICIALS

Classified By: DCM Scott I. Hamilton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: The Government of Botswana said it would
recall its Defense and Intelligence Attaches from Harare by
the end of February and expects that Zimbabwe will similarly
recall its Attaches from Gaborone to protest the GOZ's
January 19 arrest and continued detention of three GOB
wildlife officials who strayed across the border. In our
view, the GOB decision to publicly announce the recall of its
Attaches is a final attempt to gain high-level GOZ attention
and urge speedy resolution of this matter. If the GOZ does
not respond soon, tensions will increase and further strain
the already difficult Botswana-Zimbabwe bilateral
relationship. End Summary.



2. (U) On January 19, three officers from the Botswana
Department of Wildlife were tracking a lion which had
attacked local cattle near Lesomo (in the far North between
Pandamatenga and Kasane, along the Zimbabwean border). The
officers were driving a GOB vehicle and were armed. The
border between Zimbabwe and Botswana is not demarcated in
this region and the Wildlife Officers say that they
accidentally crossed into Zimbabwe. They were subsequently
arrested by Zimbabwe police and charged with immigration and
firearms violations. They have been held in a Zimbabwean
jail near Victoria Falls for three weeks as a Zimbabwean
judge hears their case.



3. (U) The GOB reports that it has made numerous unsuccessful
attempts to resolve this misunderstanding through diplomatic
channels. In a press statement issued February 4 by the
Botswana MFA, the GOB says that calls made by Police
Commissioner Tsimako and Foreign Minister Skelemani to their
Zimbabwe counterparts have gone unreturned. The statement
also says that Vice President Merafhe attempted to meet
President Mugabe on this issue at the recent African Union
summit in Addis Ababa, but was unsuccessful. According to
the press release, in response to the GOZ's refusal to
resolve the case, the GOB will recall its Defense and
Intelligence Attaches from Harare by the end of February, and
they expect the GOZ to reciprocate.



4. (C) Comment: The GOB has lost patience with the GOZ's
refusal to communicate and resolve what should be a fairly
straightforward case of wildlife officials who wandered
innocently across an unmarked border. Botswana's decision to
publicly announce the recall of its Attaches seems to be one
final attempt to focus high-level GOZ attention on this case
and urge its speedy resolution. Senior Botswana Defense
Force officials confirmed to our DATT that the Botswana
Attache in Harare has been told to prepare to depart, and the
Zimbabwean DATT in Gaborone similarly told the U.S. DATT that
he has been informed by the GOZ that he may be leaving. As
neither Attache has actually departed or even been given
exact instructions yet, it would seem that the threat of
recall is a political move which could be rescinded should
the case of the wildlife officials be resolved. However, if
this matter is not resolved soon, tensions will increase and
further strain the already difficult Botswana-Zimbabwe
bilateral relationship. End Comment.
NOLAN