9 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Shade Alert - Botswana Leader Ian Khama to Handover "Baton of Leadership" to His Deputy As Mugabe Fires His VP

Photo: Ian Khama/Facebook
Outspoken Botswana President Ian Khama reacts to Mnangagwa firing.

Botswana President Ian Khama has never been one to shy away from throwing shade, especially when it's about his Zimbabwean counterpart President Robert Mugabe. Khama's comment on social media saying he will pass the leadership baton to the country's Vice President, ensuring a smooth transfer of power has set tongues wagging, seen as a jibe after Mugabe fired his deputy and long-time ally Mnangagwa.

Botswana President Ian Khama has never been one to shy away from controversy or throwing shade, especially when it's something which involves his Zimbabwean counterpart President Robert Mugabe. Last year Khama blasted Mugabe for clinging to power and urged him to make way for younger blood. Khama also chided Mugabe for not being able to "keep up" anymore and called the the economic conditions that have forced many Zimbabweans to seek greener pastures a "burden" on the region.

In a latest comment on social media Khama said he will pass the leadership to the country's vice president, ensuring a smooth transfer of power. In a tweet Khama said, "Five months from now I shall be passing the baton of leadership of this great country into the very capable hands of VP @OfficialMasisi" .The declaration, made through the twitter handle of the Botswana government has set tongues wagging.

The comments from Botswana's president came on the same day Zimbabwe's President Mugabe fired his deputy and long time ally Mnangagwa. While it has been praised by some the comment has been questioned by some, whether it's a correct diplomatic thing to say.

Mnangagwa was fired this week from both the government and party for "traits of disloyalty" after having worked with Mugabe for over 40 years since the liberation war in 1977.

The power tussle between Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe reached a climax when Grace called for the vice president to be sacked. President Mugabe who's been in power for 37 years has continued to cling to power, unwilling to name a successor. The race for a successor especially towards the elections in 2018 has been at the heat of political discussions in Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa was accused by both President Mugabe and his wife of planning to unseat the president and creating a faction in the Zanu PF. In an expected extraordinary congress Zanu PF to be held next month, calls have been made for the First Lady Mugabe to take over the now vacant VP post. She has since been endorsed by the powerful youth league wing and the women's league which she leads.

Zimbabwe's last vice presidents suffered the same fate as her successor, also accused of disloyalty. Before Mnangagwa became vice president in 2014, Joice Mujuru the country's first female deputy president was accused of planning to take over power from President Mugabe, and she was expelled from both the party and government.

The Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association gave a press statement following the sacking of Mnangagwa. The association blamed the state of Zimbabwe on Mugabe and accused Mugabe of running the government in a "dynastic fashion."

An extract from the press statement said, "we are reclaiming our party and its assets . . . as such we have expelled Robert Gabriel Mugabe from his position as the President and First Secretary of our revolutionary ZANU (PF) with immediate effect."

Contrary to what is happening in Zimbabwe, Botswana's vice president is enjoying support and confidence from Khama. On Facebook Khama also made a comment on the political situation in Zimbabwe saying, "Another Vice President has lost their job as a result of a fall from GRACE."

Khama's remark on the incident attracted a lot of reactions on social media.

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