Hundreds of Zimbabweans living in Botswana are heading to the Plumtree border, saying the Covid-19 crisis has left them on the edge of starvation.
The immigrants usually survive by doing odd jobs, but with Botswana in a lockdown due to the coronavirus, they cannot find work to support themselves.
Additionally, the immigrants were initially excluded from the Botswana government’s food parcels. “We are in a bad state,” said Josephine Mutsaka (54), one of many Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in Gaborone who approached the embassy for voluntary repatriation back home.
“We have no food at the moment, and the only option is to go back home. “When we are in Botswana, we survive through ‘piece jobs’, but that has stopped because of the lockdown.
“We can’t blame the Botswana government for giving priority to its citizens.”
Botswana’s Foreign Affairs minister Unity Dow told local media that officials were discussing how to address the plight of immigrants.
Some Zimbabweans had crossed into Botswana for shopping, but were kept in due to the lockdown.
Some immigrants, like Tendai Ndlovu, are eager to return home, although returning Zimbabwean residents face a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Ndlovu is wary of being locked in the Zimbabwe government’s holding centres.