Southern Africa: Khama On Zimbabwe Political Power Dynamics

Photo: New Era
Botswana President Ian Khama (file photo).
9 February 2018

Windhoek — Botswana President Ian Khama who visited Namibia this week said he does not know the exact details of what transpired in Zimbabwe which led former President Robert Mugabe to resign, but he wishes that country and its people success under the new leadership.

"We are keen as everyone else in the region to see Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe prosper," said Khama one of the few leaders who spoke out openly about ousted Zimbabwean leader, Mugabe having overstayed in power and for his alleged human rights abuses.

Zimbabwe's former vice president and governing party Zanu PF's favoured candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president November last year, after the resignation of Mugabe, bringing an end to 37 years of his rule.

During his two-day state visit to Namibia, Khama was met with questions on the Zimbabwe situation which saw Mugabe relinquish power.

"I don't know what happened. All I know -if I can be undiplomatic- it was a breath of fresh air. We saw the president who has brought the country to its knees. We, as you know in Botswana have been quite critical of Mugabe's rule over the years," he remarked.

He went on to say, "When I say I don't know what happened in Zimbabwe, is that we saw the military on the streets and everyone thought coup. But actually, it was not a coup because a coup is when the military takes over the government but no military leaders declared themselves as the head of government. No military governing council said they were now the Cabinet."

Khama said the military were just on the streets to stabilise and "possibly to fast-track what the people of Zimbabwe wanted to happen."

When Zanu PF top leadership eventually vowed they would impeach him in parliament, Mugabe submitted his resignation.

Khama noted his personal contribution at the time was to write an open letter to Mugabe to step down and since then he said he has invited Mnangagwa for a state visit to Botswana.

At the time Khama wrote an open letter to Mugabe appealing to him to be sensitive to the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe and to do the honourable thing by voluntarily relinquishing power as the President of Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, Khama stated any country in SADC should be able to develop or embark upon a development path not only for the benefit of its citizens but also the region.

Therefore, he says if any country is lagging behind because of its poor policies and programmes of government, it affects the whole region.

November last year, Reuters quoted Khama saying Mugabe should end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power, as he had no regional diplomatic support to stay in power.

"I don't think anyone should be President for that amount of time. We are Presidents, we are not monarchs. It's just common sense," Khama had said.

The military intervention was "an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity," Khama had also told Reuters.

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