Khama’s im­petu­ous tantrum not sur­pris­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

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.

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