US embassy cable - 85GABORONE501

BOTSWANA CHARGES BOPHUTHATSWANA WITH THREAT TO INVADE

Identifier: 85GABORONE501
Wikileaks: View 85GABORONE501 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Gaborone
Created: 1985-02-05 12:45:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Tags: PREL SF BC
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O R 051245Z FEB 85
FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2350
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN
AMEMBASSY HARARE
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
AMEMBASSY MASERU
AMEMBASSY MBABANE
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
S E C R E T GABORONE 0501 
 
NOFORN 
 
LONDON FOR FRASURE: CAPE TOWN ALSO FOR EMBASSY 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PREL, SF, BC 
SUBJECT: BOTSWANA CHARGES BOPHUTHATSWANA WITH THREAT TO INVADE 
 
REF: GABORONE 461 (NOTAL) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY. THE GOVERNMENT OF BOTSWANA HAS ISSUED A PRESS RELEASE 
STATING THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF BOPHUTHATSWANA HAS THREATENED TO INVADE 
BOTSWANA UNLESS IT HALTS THE PASSAGE OF ANC CADRE THROUGH BOTSWANA 
INTO ITS TERRITORY AND THAT OF SOUTH AFRICA. THE RELEASE ALSO CITES 
PIK BOTHA AS SAYING THAT BOTH GOVERNMENTS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO MARCH 
INTO ANY NEIGHBORING COUNTRY THROUGH WHICH THEY BELIEVE ANC GROUPS 
ARE PASSING INTO THEIR TERRITORY. THE RELEASE STATES THAT BOTSWANA 
DOES NOT PERMIT USE OF ITS TERRITORY FOR ATTACKS ON ITS NEIGHBORS AND 
THAT SOUTH AFRICA AND BOPHUTHATSWANA "WITH THEIR LARGE SECURITY 
FORCES AND ARMIES" SHOULD BE BETTER ABLE TO SEAL THEIR BOUNDARIES 
THAN BOTSWANA. THE RELEASE WAS APPARENTLY AIRED ON RADIO BOTSWANA THE 
EVENING OF FEBRUARY 4 AND WAS PICKED UP ON BOPHUTHATSWANA TV THE SAME 
EVENING. THE PRESS HAS REPORTED A RECENT MEETING BETWEEN FOREIGN 
MINISTER CHIEPE AND BOPHUTHATSWANA OFFICIALS, DENIED BY THE FOREIGN 
MINISTER. THE PRESS STATEMENT MAY REPRESENT GOB EFFORTS TO POSITION 
ITSELF FOR THE UPCOMING MEETING WITH SAG OFFICIALS REPORTED REFTEL. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) THE FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF A GOB PRESS STATEMENT RELEASED 
LATE FEBRUARY 4.  QUOTE: BOPHUTHATSWANA HAS THREATENED TO INVADE 
BOTSWANA UNLESS THAT PASSAGE OF A.N.C. CADRES INTO REPUBLIC OF SOUTH 
AFRICA AND BOPHUTHATSWANA, WHICH BOPHUTHATSWANA BELIEVES TAKES 
PLACE THROUGH BOTSWANA, STOPS. 
 
THIS WARNING HAS SINCE BEEN REPEATED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN 
MINISTER, THE HON. PIK BOTHA, WHO HAS STATED THAT THE REPUBLIC OF 
SOUTH AFRICA AND BOPHUTHATSWANA RESERVE THE RIGHT TO MARCH INTO ANY 
NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY THROUGH WHICH THEY BELIEVE A.N.C. CADRES PASS 
INTO BOPHUTHATSWANA AND THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, WHETHER SUCH 
NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY APPROVES OR KNOWS ABOUT SUCH INFILTRATION OR NOT 
BOTSWANA THEREFORE FACES THE RISK OF INVASION WHETHER OR NOT IT 
APPROVES OF THE ALLEGED A.N.C. INFILTRATION OR EVEN KNOWS ABOUT IT OR 
NOT. THE BOPHUTHATSWANA THREAT IS ALL THE MORE SURPRISING AS 
BOPHUTHATSWANA HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY COMPLAINED TO BOTSWANA ABOUT 
SECURITY MATTERS. 
 
BOTSWANA FOR ITS PART, HAS EXPLAINED, AS IT HAS ALWAYS DONE, THAT 
IT DOES NOT ALLOW THE USE OF ITS TERRITORY AS A BASE FOR ATTACKS ON 
ITS NEIGHBOURS OR ANY OTHER COUNTRIES FOR THAT MATTER. BOTSWANA HAS 
ALWAYS ARRESTED, TRIED AND IMPRISONED ANYBODY WHO WAS CAUGHT 
IMPORTING OR CARRYING OR IN POSSESSION OF WEAPONS IN BOTSWANA. 
BOTSWANA IS NO MORE GUILTY OF PERMITTING A.N.C. CADRES TO ENTER 
ITS TERRITORY THAN BOPHUTHATSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA ARE OF PERMITTING 
THESE CADRES TO ENTER THEIR RESPECTIVE TERRITORIES. SOUTH AFRICA AND 
BOPHUTHATSWANA WITH THEIR LARGE SECURITY FORCES AND ARMIES, CAPABLE 
OF INVADING BOTSWANA, SHOULD BE BETTER ABLE TO SEAL THEIR BOUNDARIES 
AGAINST A.N.C. INFILTRATION WHICH BOTSWANA WITH ITS SMALL POLICE 
FORCE AND ARMY AND SEVERELY LIMITED RESOURCES IS UNABLE TO DO. OFFICE 
OF THE PRESIDENT, FEBRUARY 4, 1985. END QUOTE. 
 
3. (C) OUR COPY OF THE RELEASE INDICATES THAT THE STATEMENT WAS TO BE 
READ OVER RADIO BOTSWANA'S ENGLISH NEWS AT 6 P.M. AND 9 P.M. FEBRUARY 
4. EMBASSY OFFICIALS DID NOT HEAR THESE BROADCASTS BUT PICKED UP A 
REPORT ON BOPHUTHATSWANA TV DURING THE SAME EVENING REPORTING ON THE 
RELEASE. IT WAS NOT AIRED ON THE 7 A.M. RADIO BOTSWANA ENGLISH NEWS 
FEBRUARY 5. 
 
4. (S-NOFORN) COMMENT. WE ARE SEEKING EARLY MEETINGS WITH FOREIGN 
MINISTRY AND OTHER OFFICIALS TO ASCERTAIN THE BACKGROUND TO THIS 
BPZARRE PRESS RELEASE. WE SUSPECT THAT IT REPRESENTS GOB EFFORTS TO 
POSITION ITSELF FOR THE SECURITY MEETING WHICH THE SAG REPORTEDLY 
HAS INSISTED UPON (REFTEL). INTERESTINGLY, THE INDEPENDENT GUARDIAN 
REPORTED ON FEBRUARY 1 THAT MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS CHIEPE MET 
SEDETLY ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO IN A GABORONE MOTEL WITH BOPHUTHATSWANA 
OFFICIALS. THE GUARDIAN SAID THAT DR. CHIEPE HAS "EMPHATICALLY DENIED 
ANY KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH A MEETING. THE GUARDIAN CONTINUED THAT 
INFORMED SOURCES HAVE INDICATED THAT THE BANTUSTAN GOVERMMENT SEEKS 
ASSURANCE FROM GABORONE THAT ANC FREEDOM FIGHTERS ARE NOT OPERATING 
FROM BOTSWANA." THE PRESS RELEASE ALSO FOLLOWS A SIRO REPORT OF AN 
ARMED CLASH FEBRUARY 3 ON THE FRONTIER TWO KILOMETERS NORTH OF THE 
TLOKWENG BORDER POST BETWEEN 3 ARMED ANC CADRE AND A SOUTH AFRICAN 
DEFENSE FORCE PATROL IN WHICH ONE SOUTH AFRICAN SOLDIER WAS SAID TO 
HAVE BEEN CRITICALLY WOUNDED. THE ANC GROUP REPORTEDLY FLED BACK INTO 
BOTSWANA. END COMMENT. 
 
 
MAINO 

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