Khama’s impetuous tantrum not surprising
BOTSWANA President Ian Khama entertains illusions of himself as a brave, strong leader who is able to speak his mind on anything. Some in his country actually think he is, perhaps given his background as an officer in the Botswana military. Some out of his country think he is as well. They also see him as a democrat whose views are worthwhile.
The proud people of Zimbabwe don’t think he is. He is simply a loud mouth, a pitiable figure who actually runs his people as if he were a feudal lord but whose autocracy is condoned by his Western friends.
Speaking at a time when world leaders were gathered for the UN General Assembly in New York last week, President Khama tackled a theme that only he, out of all 50-plus African Heads of State has, telling President Mugabe to give up power. In his mind President Mugabe is too old to run this country well and should allow someone else to succeed him.
We are not too surprised at President Khama’s impetuous tantrum. He has thrown a few before, making some headlines for himself in the Western Press and the local private media, but was largely ignored by those who matter.
Soon after the 2013 elections that President Mugabe won most resoundingly after polling 2 110 434 votes 89 434 more than Botswana’s total population President Khama went against a Sadc observer mission’s official report that endorsed the poll as free, fair and representative of the will of the electorate. He called for an audit of the votes and announced that his country would, from then on, not second people to observe elections in the bloc.
“I want to correct the word fairness . . . the Sadc observer statement said the elections were free and peaceful, they never used the word fair . . . that’s why we asked for an audit of the Zimbabwe election,” he told BTV.
“Sadc has set itself guidelines for the conduct of free and fair elections and, therefore, it’s incumbent on all of us in Sadc to conform to those set of guidelines and if there is a breach of those guidelines then we have to say, ‘Fine, we have breached these guidelines; what now happens? What do we do about it? And in Zimbabwe, we sent 80 plus or so observers and almost every one of them said there were irregularities in that election, and there were. I am convinced of it . . . So, do we say Zimbabwe is an exception to the Sadc guidelines?”
Therefore, his silly remarks last week don’t surprise us. He has always been a puppet of the West, who shamelessly serves as their megaphone against President Mugabe in their vain attempt to lend some African credibility to their views.
He has always been pro-opposition. We recall his warm embrace of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai when he went to temporarily stay in Botswana in April 2008, seeking to dramatise the immediate aftermath of the inconclusive March 31, 2008, elections.
President Khama must take note that President Mugabe was elected in 2013 and his term ends in two years’ time. He has the people’s popular mandate and cannot be removed from office simply because a Western puppet thinks he should.
We know that it is not by coincidence that the Botswana leader is saying this at this time when the local opposition has been demanding the same, going further to try a forcible overthrow of a democratically elected Government through street demonstrations and terror attacks. His remarks are meant to provide impetus to the opposition regime change agenda, which needless to say, has already failed and will fail next time.
“The Government of Zimbabwe,” said Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe, “is shocked by this uncharacteristic behaviour on the part of President Khama who until last month, was at the helm of Sadc and should know better that you don’t use the media platform to criticise fellow Sadc leaders as he has just done with President Mugabe. It is taboo in African etiquette and diplomacy. Cde Mugabe has at all times cautioned African leaders against attacking each other in public as this would serve to strengthen the hand of Western imperialism at the expense of African unity.”
But President Khama must know that the reason why the Government of Zimbabwe has been measured in its responses to his undiplomatic statements is because it is experienced and understands how inter-state relations work, not because they do not have intensely uncomplimentary words to say about him personally and his iron-fisted regime.
Having said that, our sixth sense tells us that the Botswana leader is crossing the red line and gloves must come off.
The Government of Zimbabwe has a natural obligation to defend itself from malicious attacks. Zanu-PF has an obligation to defend its thumping mandate without seeking favours from partial outsiders.