Botswana swallows its pride at SADC summit
After labeling Zimbabwe elections‘circus’ the governmentof Botswana has fi nally swallowedits pride and congratulatedZANU-PF and Zimbabwe PresidentRobert Mugabe for winning the recentelections in that country.The Summit held in Lilongwe, Malawiover the weekend noted withsatisfaction the holding of free andpeaceful harmonized elections on July31, 2013. It commended the Governmentand people of Zimbabwe for thepeaceful manner in which electionswere conducted and reiterated its callfor the lifting of all forms of sanctionshitherto imposed on Zimbabwe.The Minister of Foreign Affairsand International Relations, PhanduSekelemani told The Gazette thatthe government of Botswana wrotea letter to President Jakaya MrishoKikwete of Tanzania requesting foran audit to be done on the electionsand he received and acknowledgedit. “The SADC observer mission hasnot yet released their last report.
Weare hoping that they will consider thefairness principle and maybe questionwhether the issue cannot be addressedby an audit.”“The government of Botswana wasrushing this issue so that it is debatedbefore the inauguration of PresidentRobert Mugabe but now Morgan Tsvangiraiand his party withdrew thecase from the High Court of Zimbabwe.We did not take back our positionas the government. That is whywe told the SADC organ to considerour letter. We want the observer missionto consider this letter so that thisissue does not happen again,” he said.
However former Permanent Secretaryin the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,Ernest Mpofu said Botswana aired byrushing to make a pronouncement beforethe SADC summit. “Sometimeswhen you rush to utter statementslike the former Vice President didusing strong language it back fi res.Already you have put yourself in adiffi cult situation. It’s little too riskyto make a decision like that, it was amistake on our side. Just before thesummit Tsvangirai and his party withdrewtheir case from the High Courtof Zimbabwe so now what do you asBotswana who already had attackedthe Zimbabwean elections say? Wemust remember that Botswana is asmall country and we depend on otherstates,” he said.Meanwhile the SADC summitelected President Joyce Banda ofthe Republic of Malawi and RobertMugabe, as Chairperson andDeputy Chairperson of SADC,respectively.
The summit also elected PresidentHifi kepunye Pohamba of theRepublic of Namibia and RightHonorable Thomas MotsoahaeThabane, Prime Minister of theKingdom of Lesotho as Chairpersonand Deputy Chairpersonof the SADC Organ on Politics,Defence and Security Cooperation,respectively.The new Deputy Chairpersonof Summit, Mugabe, invited theHeads of State and Governmentand all delegates to the next summitto be held in Zimbabwe inAugust 2014.