2 May 2014

Southern Africa: Botswana in Dramatic U-Turn

Botswana has backtracked on its threat to pull out of sadc Election Observer Missions because of its displeasure with the MDC-T's loss in last year's harmonised polls.

Gaborone was unhappy with SADC's endorsement of that election, a thumbs-up given by many other observer missions, but has made a dramatic U-turn after clarifications by the regional body on the matter.

Botswana's President Ian Khama Seretse Khama, has been a traditional supporter of opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

His Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Ministry on Tuesday said the sadc Secretariat had responded to its concerns and it would now participate in observer missions. "Although it was not fully satisfied, Botswana government felt it made its point on the importance of adhering to sadc guidelines for the conduct of elections and will be prepared to participate in future sadc Electoral Observer Missions," the ministry said.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Charity Manyeruke said Botswana had realised it could not alienate itself from sadc. "Botswana shares a history with the rest of SADC; it cannot jump ship because the ship will continue to move," she said. "sadc countries will continue to support each other in their fight for economic liberation.

Botswana is serving the interests of its colonial masters, that is why they made that position, now they realise that the rest of sadc shares common values."

Midlands State University lecturer Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri said Botswana was disgruntled by the election outcome.

"Botswana supports MDC-T and at one time Tsvangirai ran away to that country," he said. "They have an egg on their face and we hope they will have a fair mind when they embark on these noble missions."

War veterans' leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda said Botswana's support for liberation movements had dissipated under President Khama's rule.

"We do not know whether he is a product of (Seretse) Khama or Mrs Khama who was a former British citizen," he said in reference to the incumbent's father, Sir Seretse Khama, and his mother who was from the UK.

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