- MDC says Botswana is a beacon on a hill for human rights
- Botswana says it will speak through SADC
The Zimbabwe’s main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has called on Botswana to speak up on the humanitarian crisis in its neighbour, saying Botswana’s voice is not like any other.
“Botswana is a key stalwart in the task to develop this region and a beacon on the hill for human rights and democracy,” the MDC said in a written response to questions sent to its president, Nelson Chamisa, yesterday (Tuesday). “Botswana must uphold and promote her values, which Zimbabweans deserve too. The arrest of journalists, the rape of women and girls, the degrading treatment of men and women and the use of brutal force on unarmed citizens harms our common humanity and must be fought against by all.”
Zimbabwe, the MDC said, “is a member of the family of nations within the (Southern African) region” and that “we are each other’s keepers”. President Chamisa was therefore calling “on everyone to speak for progress, peace, democracy and development”.
The MDC also called on the opposition in Botswana, which has already made a statement that was read in Parliament on Monday this week, to speak up. “Every voice matters,” the MDC urged through its spokesperson, Dr Nku Sibanda. “The people of Botswana and the people of Zimbabwe are a common people. The opposition in Botswana has an important voice to amplify our challenges and help us deal with an armed regime.”
The MDC said the party and its president, Chamisa, welcomed efforts by the region to intervene in the deepening governance and human rights crisis in Zimbabwe. The crisis, the party said, is characterised by a de facto state of emergency, a crackdown on citizens, abductions, arbitrary arrest of citizens and persecution of journalists.
The MDC response comes against the backdrop of a war of words that erupted in Parliament on Monday this week when the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, accused the government and ruling Botswana Democratic Party of being too quiet on the Zimbabwean crisis despite the northern part of the Botswana always bearing the consequences whenever there is political chaos in Zimbabwe.
According to Saleshando, the Government of Botswana cannot speak out against the Zimbabwean government because the ruling parties in both countries, the Botswana Democratic Party and ZANU PF, are friends, as are President Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Masisi.
But unlike his Ian Khama his predecessor, Masisi is averse to rooftop diplomacy and says he prefers the soft approach. In the present issue of Zimbabwe, Masisi has said Botswana will speak through the Southern African Development Community.