The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: PM Asks Botswana to Bankroll MDC-T Election Campaign

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai used his recent visit to Botswana to beg for money to bankroll MDC-T's election campaign ahead of harmonised elections set for early next year. The PM was in Botswana from October 24 to 27 at the invitation of Botswana Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

Sources in the premier's office told The Herald yesterday that the real purpose of the visit was to meet Botswana President Ian Khama to fund his party's election campaign.

This comes at a time when MDC-T is struggling to secure funding from its traditional Western allies.

An official from the PM's office said the PM's official business to Botswana was just a pretext of a long scheduled meeting with President Khama.

"The PM went to Botswana wearing two hats," said the source.

"First as Prime Minister and more importantly as MDC-T leader. The major thrust of the visit was to seek election funding. You notice that he had a very short meeting with VP Kedikilwe on his official business that lasted almost one hour while his meeting with President Khama which was purported to be a courtesy call went for more than one hour 30 minutes.

"The PM's meeting with VP Kedikilwe was attended by several Government officials from Botswana, while the 'courtesy call' was a one on one meeting. Among those who attended the meeting between the PM and VP Kedikilwe were Botswana's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Phandu Skelemani, Energy and Water Development Minister Kitso Mokaila, and Assistant Minister of Agriculture Oreeditse Molebatsi.

"Although the details of the one on one meeting between PM Tsvangirai and President Khama were not disclosed to us, we happen to know that is when the PM asked for financial injection to bankroll the party's election campaign."

It is understood that PM Tsvangirai briefed President Khama on political developments in Zimbabwe with special emphasis on the constitution making process. PM Tsvangirai reportedly told President Khama that he was concerned over the slow pace at which the inclusive Government was implementing security and media reforms.

Unconfirmed reports said there were three Western diplomats based in Zimbabwe who also went to Botswana at the same time the PM visited Gaborone. According to his official itinerary, the PM focused on issues that were either above or below his purview to cover up the real purpose of the visit.

The PM itinerary showed that he had negotiations on the control of Foot and Mouth disease and requested Botswana to extract water from the Chobe/Zambezi confluence.

Ironically, the Foot and Mouth disease is way below the PM's mandate and was dealt with by Ministers of Agriculture from both countries when they met in Bulawayo on June 14 this year, while the water issue was the brief of Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai also discussed the Mmamabaka/Mlambaphele border post that falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs and the tripartite rail agreement between Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.

Heads of State and Government and ministers of Transport should discuss the issue of the tripartite rail line.

Only Minister of State in the PM's Office Jameson Timba and Water Resources Development and Management Minister Nkomo accompanied the PM.

"As I have highlighted, the official programme was just a face saver on real issues that were discussed in Botswana," said the source. "The issue of Mmamabaka/Mlambaphele border post was dealt with by Ministers of Home of Affairs from both sides on October 4 while all other issues raised were discussed and agreed on during the 28th session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Commission on Defence and Security held from August 27 to 31."

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