Botswana's President Sir Seretse Khama said in Nairobi on Friday (2 April) that his country would suffer more than Rhodesia if it closed its borders with the rebel British colony.
GV EXTERIOR Nairobi airport building and Kenyan flag (2 shots)
GV INTERIOR Sir Seretse khama speaking
SIR SERETSE: I think we all wish to see Zimbabwe attain majority rule, and we all are wanting to do our best to see that comes about. But there are of course always some difficulties to overcome. There are quite a few routes into Rhodesia at present, although two of them have been closed. There is the route that goes directly to South Africa and there is the route that goes through Botswana. I should explain that the line that goes through Botswana is wholly owned and managed by Rhodesia, and is one of two, the other is the Rutenga line which goes directly to South Africa, which is the other Rhodesian line. That line carries about eighty per cent of the traffic from Rhodesia. The route through Botswana carries about the remaining twenty per cent. Even then all the traffic that goes through this particular line is not for Botswana and Rhodesia only. It's also, from in the twenty per cent, it's also for some other countries further north such as Zaire. So it's really a very small percentage of the traffic that goes through that line. It handles about, I think, eleven trains a day, and even if we were to close that line, the Rhodesians could still have whatever they wished to import or export through the Rutenga line. So we would only end up by, I suppose, hurting ourselves more than hurting Rhodesia.
QUESTION: Talk of more and more of military action against Rhodesia to bring about the impasse. Would you allow Botswana to be used as a launching off point for an invasion by freedom fighters or Cuban troops?
SIR SERETSE: I think we feel that, well if I may say so, during the liberation of Kenya from British rule, I think it was the Kenyan people who were in the forefront and as far as I know they did not appeal to any others to come and fight their war for them. And I think it is for the Zimbabweans themselves to liberate their own country.
Initials CL/1737 CL/1740
This film is serviced with part of a news conference in English given by Sir Seretse Khama at Nairobi Airport. A transcript of this appears below.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Botswana's President Sir Seretse Khama said in Nairobi on Friday (2 April) that his country would suffer more than Rhodesia if it closed its borders with the rebel British colony.
Sir Seretse was answering journalists' questions at Nairobi's Embakassi Airport during a stop-over on his way to India for a State visit. He said Botswana would end up cutting itself off instead of cutting off the Rhodesians, and pointed out that there was a direct rail link to South Africa as well as the one running through Botswana.
Sir Seretse is one of the four African Presidents who have been involved in a joint effort to solve the Rhodesian constitutional crisis since 1973. The others are the Presidents of Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
SYNOPSIS: Botswana's President Sir Seretse Khama spoke about the current Rhodesian crisis in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday.
Sir Seretse was passing through on his way to India.