The Dilemmas of Liberation in Southern Africa: The Case of Zimbabwean Liberation Movements and Botswana, 1960–1979

The Dilemmas of Liberation in Southern Africa: The Case of Zimbabwean Liberation Movements and Botswana, 1960–1979

Author: 
Morapedi, Wazha G.
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis
Date published: 
2012
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies (JSAS)
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 73-90
Abstract: 

This article analyses the dilemmas which the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, and specifically the Zimbabwean war of liberation, presented both for the many Zimbabwean refugees in Botswana and for the Botswana government. As a neighbouring state of both Rhodesia and South Africa, Botswana sought to follow a policy of diplomacy in resolving conflicts between the minority white regimes and the liberation movements and balancing the different pressures on it: on the one hand, it opposed the use of Botswana as a base from which political violence could be employed against neighbouring states; on the other, it opposed regimes that denied their citizens basic human rights and sought to show solidarity with them by offering political sanctuary to ‘genuine’ refugees from Zimbabwe. This strategy, however, had only limited success and created numerous tensions and contradictions of policy. Rhodesian security agents operating in Botswana were a serious danger to refugees, the Botswana government and the leaders of the liberation movements. Moreover, the policy invited a number of armed incursions from Rhodesia and South Africa. At the same time, the Botswana government's approach to the question of the accreditation of representatives of liberation movements seriously disadvantaged the movements, whilst its deportation of Zimbabweans considered to be ‘undesirable’ jeopardised their lives and created frustration and despair among freedom fighters and the leaders of liberation movements. Nor did it always smooth relations with other African neighbours: thus, for example, the treatment of refugees held at Francistown in transit to Zambia led to misunderstandings between the Zambian and Botswana governments. In the light of these tensions, it is argued here that whilst Botswana did not support the use of violence to liberate Zimbabwe in the early years after its independence in 1966, it gradually moved towards accepting the inevitability of armed struggle in the early 1970s.

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CITATION: Morapedi, Wazha G.. The Dilemmas of Liberation in Southern Africa: The Case of Zimbabwean Liberation Movements and Botswana, 1960–1979 . : Taylor & Francis , 2012. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 73-90 - Available at: http://library.au.int/dilemmas-liberation-southern-africa-case-zimbabwean-liberation-movements-and-botswana-1960–1979-3