Botswana commended for breaking rank over flawed Zim poll

ian khama

The President of Botswana Ian Khama

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
27 January 2014

Botswana has become the first Southern African nation to criticise the regional bloc’s endorsement of Zimbabwe’s disputed elections, with President Ian Khama moving to break rank with fellow SADC leaders over the polls.

In an interview aired on Botswana’s national television station, BTV, Khama said the Zim elections were neither free nor fair. He also announced that Botswana will no longer participate in any SADC election observer missions, because the leadership bloc appears to have let Zimbabwe “off the hook”.

SADC has faced serious criticism for endorsing Zimbabwe’s 2013 polls in the face of widespread reports of irregularities, witnessed not only by Zimbabweans, but also observer missions from across the region.

For example the main opposition party in South Africa rejected the endorsement of Zimbabwe’s elections by the SADC Parliamentary Forum observer mission, saying the polls were not free, fair or credible. The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s Masizole Mnqasela, who was part of the mission, refused to sign off on a report that moved to endorse the polls.

Another observer, Elias Bila, who was representing the Federation of Unions for South Africa (FEDUSA) as part of the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council observer team, called the poll outcome “a fraud.” He also said the polls were not credible.

This was also the position of yet another regional observer team, the Southern Africa Regional Civil Society and Social Movements observer mission. That mission, organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, said in its preliminary report that “these elections were heavily compromised and fall far short of meeting the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.”

Botswana had initially rejected claims that the poll was credible, and in early August called for an audit of the results. But a final decision was later voiced by SADC, with its main observer mission saying the polls were generally free and peaceful.
“I want to correct the word fairness… the SADC observer statement said the elections were free and peaceful, they never used the word fair… that’s why we asked for an audit of the Zimbabwe election,” Khama said on BTV.

He continued: “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. I am convinced of it…So, do we say Zimbabwe is an exception to the SADC guidelines?”

Khama has long been considered to be cut of a different cloth to that of his fellow Southern African leaders, and has previously been critical of the situation in Zimbabwe when his counterparts were prepared to ignore it.

His latest comments are now being commended as an overdue but welcome position, which should be echoed by other regional leaders. Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher in Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, told SW Radio Africa that Khama’s position is “fantastic.”

“At long last a key leader has come out strongly to show what a charade the SADC election observer missions have been. It is a position that is welcome and one that should be emulated by others,” Mavhinga said.

He said South Africa, the SADC appointed mediator in Zimbabwe, was the main disappointment in the Zim situation, because its position led the way for the overall endorsement of the polls.

“As the mediator they should have been forthright and upfront with Mugabe that what happened was not genuine. It had serious irregularititess that didn’t meet the SADC guidelines and principles,” Mavhinga said

Khama meanwhile, when asked if he was comfortable with alienating Botswana by being the only African nation calling for an audit of the Zim polls, said: “ I am very comfortable; I would sleep better at night knowing that I have taken that stance.”

The Botswana leader also moved to break rank with African Union (AU), stating he was against an AU resolution that sitting heads of state must not be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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10 Responsesto “Botswana commended for breaking rank over flawed Zim poll”

  1. vikinduku says:

    Very strong and brave statement from the Khama,we will always regard you as our hero.

  2. Peckson Paul Kazingizi says:

    Peckson Paul Kazingizi · Birmingham City University
    You are spot on Mr khama, Zimbabwean populace will support your stance you are the only president in the Sadc region who can call a spade a spade. Sadc is a disgrace; the whole Zimbabweans and the international community have put faith on them to find an African solution but got a slap on the face. Sadc should struck off the word fairness in their dictionary and replace it by generally credible in future elections in the region. We demand fresh elections in Zimbabwe. We Zimbabweans have been short changed by Sadc for a long time. Mugabe has never won a free and fair election since 2000, but to Sadc countries that`s ok as they have benefited out our misery through cheap labour, flooding our markets with their goods and wooing all the investors at our expense, what a coward barge of leaders. In fact they are laughing at us and branding us as daft, shame on you Sadc. What is it you see in Mugabe that we can`t see ourselves.

    • Murenga says:

      I wonder what you are studying at Birmingham City usingagone kunyora a single sentence of proper English. Perhaps uri kuita hako basa rekugeza matoilets ipapo? In which case please don’t pointlessly bring that institution into disrepute otherwise unodzingwa basa. Lol.

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      What a thick head and fat neck too!!!!!! Kunyora kunge sekuru vangu Dumbu vanongo pupurutswa semhepo. Kwaenda mhepo ndikokwavaenda, vanagundamusaira vasina njere, vairega vakadzi nevanasikana vachibatwa chibaro nenjuzu nekuda vana vakatsvuka senjuzu kana kuti madzimudzangara. Isu vana Chimbwido tinoti uduzvi kana hudofo.

  3. dumbu says:

    Mr. Khama ! All Zimbabweans are behind you . You are a true hero. We salute you. We want this dictator Mugabe to quit now.

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      Kana nguva yezhizha yasvika madafi kana madatya ose anoimba rwiyo rumechete. Madzetse anobva odavirawo murumbo sekuru. Zvino imi sekuru muridzese guru guru sekuru.

  4. john moyo says:

    Viva Kharma !!

  5. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    President Khama is the only coloured and probably the last coloured president on the African continent. Being the son an English woman who was married to Sir Seretse Khama of the Bamangato, he was raised and taught along the English tradition, values and way of life by his mother.

    President Khama does not consider himself a black man, a trait he must have learnt from his mother as he was growing up. He has largely remained highly aloof and isolated from other presidents on the continent. Consequently, President Khama commands no respect and influence on the African continent. In any case, no African President and his people can listen attentively to a Tswana leader who presides over a population of only 1.2 million people, the lowest population of any country on the African continent and much lower than Mutare City.

    • sandanga says:

      You never need multitudes to validate an idea/opinion. Inventions that have endured through time were, in the main, thought out and developed by individuals regardless of race, creed or colour! It is therefore shallow to criticise Khama’s view on Zim elections just because he reigns over a small national population and a ‘Coloured’ – an apartheid classification.
      The fact that Khama questions the fairness of the election should not be mistaken as his negative bias on the winners or losers but an objective view on the process that makes the whole programme questionable. If the Chinese president had expressed this very opinion, would it have changed your analysis, sir?

      • Chimbwido Warvet says:

        That is why as human beings, our views and opinions are not homogeneous. You have views and opinions which are subject to criticism and so is Chimbwido Warvet.

        The Republic of Botswana has a resident Ambassador in Zimbabwe who represents the Tswana president and the people of this country. If he has misgivings about the conduct of our elections in Zimbabwe that were held eight months ago, he has to convey these through the country’s diplomatic mission in Zimbabwe. That is what diplomatic missions are for, mate.
        If this hopeless Tswana President goes to the press to talk about our elections, it is a clear indication to Chimbwido Warvet that he has no respect to our President and the people of Zimbabwe who voted for him overwhelmingly to govern the country. It is not for the Tswana President to tell us who should have won the election or to tell us what is good for the people of Zimbabwe. I get annoyed by this Tswana president who does not mind his own business and wants to poke his nose in our own affairs. Tell him to shut the fck up, respect other African leaders and all will be fine with us.

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