Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa says his country, and neighbour Botswana, have initiated discussions for passport-free travel between the countries to facilitate smooth travel and trade.
Currently, citizens from both countries require valid passports for cross-border travel.
Mnangagwa was speaking in a presidential panel discussion at the 5th edition of the Kusi Ideas Festival in Botswana. The festival aims to be an “ideas transaction market” looking at the challenges facing Africa as the continent secures its place in the future.
Mnangagwa said he had agreed with his Botswana counterpart, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, to begin the passport scrapping process.
''Realising that we are Africans, we should be able to walk into Botswana, walk into Zambia, walk into Kenya and why do we restrict ourselves?
''So why should we continue to respect this? Let us open borders among ourselves and move freely,'' Mnangagwa said.
Earlier this year Botswana’s president Mokgweesi Masisi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Namibian president Hage Geingob to allow citizens of both countries to use their IDs to cross borders.
He indicated at the time that the same bilateral initiatives may be extended to other neighbouring countries that share borders with landlocked Botswana.
Most Zimbabweans migrate to Botswana as economic refugees seeking employment, while others visit for trade purposes.
The exact number of Zimbabweans residing unlawfully in Botswana remains uncertain; however, according to a 2022 government report, 47 000 Zimbabweans have migrated to Botswana in the past decade.