Botswana defense chief denies praising Mugabe

RESPONSE BY THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE JUSTICE AND SECURITY TO THE SUNDAY STANDARD ARTICLE

Mugabe
Mugabe

1. The Sunday Standard Newspaper of Sunday 12th February 2012 carried a story entitled "The BDF Boss Slams the West, Praises Mugabe Regime' in which it purported that the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force Lt Gen THC Masire had made statements attacking Mugabe critics, especially the Western countries, about Zimbabwe policies on governance, democracy and the Kimberly Process.

2. The Commander has indicated that his comments were confined to how the media in Africa and elsewhere has the tendency to misrepresent events or situations in Africa, including distorting the obvious and positive results such as the use of the diamonds for development and the Kimberly Process.

3. The Commander had travelled to Zimbabwe in the normal course of his duty as the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force and as the guest of his counterpart, the Commander of the Armed Forces of Zimbabwe. The visit was under the auspices of the Botswana/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission to discuss matters of mutual interest relating to security, training and general cooperation between the two agencies in the interest of bilateral and regional peace and security. The cooperation between the two military organs in the two countries is exclusive of any political or business agenda. Therefore it would have been inappropriate for the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force to make any statement political or otherwise that would have been contrary to expressed opinions of the Government of Botswana.

4. Botswana has taken a proactive stand concerning Zimbabwe in a bid to compliment regional efforts aimed at helping Zimbabwe to return to democracy, economic prosperity, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Botswana wants Zimbabwe to assume her rightful place in the region and thus contribute to regional and international efforts towards achieving greater integration and economic prosperity.

5. Regrettably, the political situation in Zimbabwe has not improved sufficiently, despite repeated calls by the SADC Summits urging the Parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to honour their commitments in order to ensure the full implementation of the Agreement. Such commitments include, among others, the drafting of a new Constitution and its adoption through a referendum. Botswana will thus continue to urge SADC to bring pressure to bear on the Parties to the GPA to honour their commitments.

6. As a country that largely depends on diamond revenues for economic development, Botswana continues to play a key role in the Kimberly Process, which serves as an important vehicle for protecting the diamond market against trading on illicit or conflict diamonds. Botswana continues to condemn any action taken by any country in violation of the Kimberly Process.

7. Botswana currently chairs the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Reform of the Kimberly Process. The United States of America has assumed the Chairmanship of the Kimberly Process, while South Africa serves as the Deputy Chairperson. Botswana fully supports the review of the Kimberly Process, which mainly aims at improving the functioning and working methods of the Kimberly Process.

8. With regard to Zimbabwe's diamonds at Marange, there has been a divergent view on whether or not Zimbabwe should be allowed to join the Kimberly process in order to export them. Botswana subscribes to the compromise solution reached which allows Zimbabwe to export her diamonds, but only after they have been certified by two monitors, namely: Belgium and South Africa. The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security reiterates that any statements that may have been made by the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force while in Zimbabwe do not change the Botswana position on the political situation in Zimbabwe.

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