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Journal article

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


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Taylor & Francis
Africa | Southern Africa

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...


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