Botswana says Mugabe can be brought down by closing borders

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 November 2008

One of Robert Mugabe’s fiercest critics, the Botswana Foreign Minister, on Wednesday launched a stinging attack on the ZANU PF leader, suggesting that the Southern African region should close its borders in an attempt to bring him down.

As pressure mounted on Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to agree to form a unity government to avert the humanitarian catastrophe, Phandu Skelemani told the BBC that SADC nations have failed to move Mugabe with mediation and they should now impose sanctions.

In the strongest language ever used against Mugabe in the SADC bloc, Skelemani said leaders should tell him to his face ‘look, now you are on your own, we are switching off, we are closing your borders.' He added that if no petrol went into Zimbabwe for a week, Mugabe would be gone.

Leaders from Botswana and Zambia have been lonely voices in the region against Mugabe’s regime and Botswana's President Ian Khama, has emerged as one of Mugabe's harshest critics in Africa. The regime has hit back at Botswana, accusing Khama of interference and of training MDC insurgents to destabilise Zimbabwe. A claim strongly denied by Botswana.

Skelemani also said his country would be willing to shelter Tsvangirai, if he ever asked for protection. He added; ‘Anybody who comes to Botswana saying that they fear for their life, from their own country, we would not chase them away because, if we did, what do we want to happen? For them to be killed first? And then do what?’

New talks to try to bridge the gap between the feuding parties resumed in South Africa on Tuesday, mainly to agree on the wording of the constitutional amendment that would form the legal basis for a unity government which would catapult Tsvangirai to the position of Prime Minister.

A source in Johannesburg told us both sides spent the whole of Tuesday failing to agree on what to discuss. The MDC are reportedly pressing for the withdrawal of mediator Thabo Mbeki, the ousted South African President, whom they accuse of favoring Mugabe.

Tsvangirai also revealed in a statement on Wednesday that the negotiations have been hampered by the attitude and position of the facilitator. He said Mbeki does not appear to understand how desperate the problem in Zimbabwe is, and the solutions he proposes are too small.

‘He is not serving to bring the parties together because he does not understand what needs to be done. In addition, his partisan support of ZANU PF, to the detriment of genuine dialogue, has made it impossible for the MDC to continue negotiating under his facilitation,’ Tsvangirai said.

He added that his party had written to the chairman of SADC, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, detailing the irretrievable state of their relationship with Mbeki and asking that he recuses himself.
The draft of the constitutional amendment that Zanu PF sent to Mbeki, contains a clause which the party’s chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, admitted he had altered after the political agreement was signed in the public ceremony on September 15. This clause was never agreed to by either Tsvangirai or Mutambara, and it allows Mugabe to appoint nine more senators to the upper house, where Zanu PF already have a majority.

The draft also allows Mugabe to cancel the power sharing deal at any time, if he feels it’s no longer possible, for any reason. Mugabe would then issue a proclamation that any changes brought in were cancelled, including the Prime Ministership of Morgan Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe would revert to an executive presidency, with Mugabe in total charge, again.

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