Of Khama’s whimpers and Zim elections
Miffed by Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger’s penchant for commenting on developments at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea gaffer, Jose Mourinho, once described his Gunners counterpart as a voyeur.
“I think he is one of those people, he is a voyeur,” Mourinho said of Wenger at the time.
“He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, they have a big telescope to see what happens in other families.
“It bothers me because the guy is speaking all the time. We never speak about them.”
If Zimbabwe did not observe diplomatic etiquette, Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama would have surely found himself at the receiving end of such vitriol.
In an interview with his country’s national broadcaster aired a fortnight ago, the Botswana President plunged nose-first into the affairs of Zimbabwe and mourned more than the bereaved with regards to last year’s harmonised elections, as he stepped out of sync with SADC and the African Union.
President Khama, shockingly, claimed that the elections, which saw Zanu-PF annihilating the MDC-T and other opposition parties, did not meet the SADC election guidelines.
“I am convinced of it,” he said, without a hint of embarrassment.
“SADC has set itself guidelines for the conduct of free and fair elections and, therefore, it’s incumbent on all of us in SADC to conform to those set of guidelines and if there is a breach of those guidelines then we have to say, ‘Fine, we have breached these guidelines; what now happens? What do we do about it?’
“And in Zim, we sent 80 plus or so observers and almost every one of them said there were irregularities in that election, and there were.
“So, the point was just to say that we must fix the problem because if the guidelines were violated and you create that precedent in Zimbabwe, then it means the next election, because Zimbabwe is gonna have elections again, they are likely to repeat the same irregularities. So, do we say Zimbabwe is an exception to the SADC guidelines?”
Quizzed if he was comfortable with making Botswana the only African country calling for an audit of the Zimbabwean election, President Khama replied: “I am very comfortable; I would sleep better at night knowing that I have taken that stance.”
How President Khama believes he is best placed to judge the Zimbabwean elections better than the SADC-appointed facilitator and South African President Jacob Zuma boggles the mind.
Soon after Zanu-PF’s thumping victory at the July 31, 2013, polls President Zuma, in a statement through his International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, described the election as a success.
“HE (His Excellency) President Jacob Zuma extends his profound congratulations to HE President Robert G Mugabe on his re-election as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe following the successful harmonised elections held on July 31, 2013.
“President Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people,” he said.
President Khama’s position is also in contrast with the United Nations, SADC, Comesa and several observer groups, which endorsed the elections.
His call for an audit of the elections at a time when its biggest losers of those elections – the MDC-T – have long abandoned an ill-advised bid to challenge its results, makes one question the motive behind such antics by the Botswana leader.
The Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Professor Jonathan Moyo, gave an interesting pointer when he highlighted that President Khama’s wild claims came just ahead of an annual European Union meeting to review illegal sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe.
The meeting is set for later this month.
“We are, of course, aware that the EU’s annual review of its illegal sanctions is scheduled for around February 19.
“Nobody should be surprised that the usual voices that have traditionally supported the self-indulgent and evil Anglo-Saxon sanctions about this time of the year since 2003 are at it again ahead of the February 19 EU meetings in Brussels.
“While all this is unfortunate, we are heartened not only by the fact that the progressive world has remained resolutely opposed to the illegal sanctions, which have devastated the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans, but also by the fact that we are beginning to hear voices of reason against the sanctions from within the ranks of the EU itself,” Prof Moyo was quoted as saying by The Herald last week.
Prof Moyo said while Zimbabwe had its own opinions about the conduct of elections and other governance issues in Botswana, it had chosen to reserve its comments as a sign of respect of its neighbour’s sovereignty.
“It is common cause that Zimbabweans have their own opinions about Botswana and its governance issues including whether Botswana holds free, fair and credible elections, whether Botswana’s economy provides equal opportunities to all its citizens, especially among the indigenous communities.
“By and large, Zimbabweans keep their opinions on these and other related issues to themselves and never grandstand about them in the media. I am sure that will continue to be the position of the generality of Zimbabweans because we believe in being our brother’s keeper.
“To us solidarity with our neighbours means and counts for a lot,” he said.
Prof Moyo added that the country values its relationship with Botswana given the role it played in the country’s liberation struggle.
On his part, President Khama says he is ready to work with President Mugabe’s Government despite being “convinced” that the elections which brought it into power did not meet the SADC guidelines.
“So we can see you visiting Zimbabwe and President Mugabe in Botswana?” he was asked during the interview whose full version is available on YouTube.
“No problem, yes, yes indeed,” he responded.
Hopefully, the Botswana leader will use his envisaged meetings with President Mugabe to compare notes with the veteran statesman.
Maybe then he will get to appreciate the dangers of singing a hymn written for him by the West when Batswana are wallowing in poverty, as they cannot benefit from their country’s God-given resources, which are being looted by the same forces whose script their leader appears to be singing from.