Botswana does not recognize Mugabe as legitimate President

"Botswana has a moral high ground on Zimbabwe issue" - Skelemani

The Botswana government says it remains proud of the stance it has
adopted against Zimbabwe following the disputed election process in that
country which saw the opposition withdrawing, citing political violence and
anarchy meted by the government backed militias.

Botswana has insisted that they do not recognize Robert Mugabe as the

legitimate President of Zimbabwe.

Speaking to Sunday Standard, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phandu

Skelemani, said Botswana was disappointed that other SADC countries have not

only failed to condemn Robert Mugabe for his behaviour, but have also not

stated their position.

He, however, said, like Zimbabwe, SADC is better reminded of the

ramifications of breaking one’s own laws and regulations.

Skelemani said Botswana supports and welcomes the negotiations between

the rival parties in Zimbabwe “not as a solution but rather a resolution.”

He said the route of the negotiations does not altogether cure the

Zimbabwean disease but only provides the citizens of that country with a

less violent route back to democracy.

“We hope and pray that they will have an agreement in place.”

More important, said Skelemani, is that the parties should agree who

becomes the president and under what circumstances.

The key, said Skelemani, is that all the parties at the negotiations

be treated as equals.

He said at the talks, Robert Mugabe’s position should be confined to

the leadership of ZANU PF, with Morgan Tsvangirai being the leader of MDC

(Movement for Democratic Change).

“If they are not treated equally then they are starting on a wrong

footing,” said Minister Skelemani.

“It is not for Botswana to tell the Zimbabweans who to choose as

President,” said Minister Skelemani.

He said tensions in Zimbabwe remained high which made it difficult to

rule out an all out civil war if the situation is not resolved quickly and

with sensitivity.

Skelemani, who has since become the public face of Botswana’s hard

stance against Zimbabwe, said although Botswana remains deeply disappointed

by other SADC countries, severing of ties with the organization was not an


He said instead, Botswana will continue to push for adherence.

“When we joined the organization it was on the hope that its members

will live by the standards they have set for themselves. We are

disappointed. The President of this country has said it. But in all this we

are happy because Botswana has a legitimate claim to moral ground,” said


Skelemani said unless the issue of Zimbabwe was resolved, Botswana

will not be attending the coming SADC Heads of State Summit.

It will be a sign of protest at a failure by SADC to live up to the

rules they have set for themselves as member countries.

On what Botswana’s hard position has achieved, Skelemani said it was

Botswana’s position that is bringing pressure on Mugabe to negotiate.

“He knows that the blind solidarity he used to enjoy from SADC is no

longer guaranteed. They may not acknowledge it but they can no longer take

us for granted.”

He said it is important for the Zimbabweans to understand that the

love Botswana gives them cannot be taken for granted.

“We know for certain that they are feeling the pressure. Mugabe

himself has said it that Botswana has saddened him. The look on his face

also showed that indeed he was stunned by Botswana’s position,” said


The Minister said it is important to underscore the fact that Botswana

derives no pleasure from adopting its hard stance against Zimbabwe and


“Unfortunately it is a bitter medicine that has to be administered to

cure the disease. We know it is not the nice kind of medicine but it is

meant for good. We sincerely hope that when everything is said and done the

disease will be cured,” said Skelemani.

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