HARARE – Opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has slammed President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s blind calls for scrapping of sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by the west while ignoring what brought the measures in the first place.
Addressing hundreds of Zanu PF supporters who thronged the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to welcome him and his entourage Thursday, Masisi demanded the scrapping of sanctions which he said were tantamount to an act of sanctions against his own country.
The Botswana leader, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa on his side, said, verbatim: “Botswana continues to call for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe… We just came from our elective congress, and ZANU PF was represented very well…. The two ruling parties have relations, we are friends.”
However, his comments were received with consternation by opponents back home, who chastised their state leader for allegedly forgetting he was in fact on a state visit to Zimbabwe.
In a hard hitting statement Sunday, BCP Information and Publicity Secretary Mpho M. Pheko said his party was surprised at the partisan nature of Masisi’s welcome.
WE REPRODUCE THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is concerned by the insidious comments made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi during his recent State Visit to Zimbabwe.
Our indignation is resultant from President Masisi’s irresponsible commentary which utterly disregards the prevailing political and economic situation engulfing our neighbors.
The following are his words, captured verbatim: “Botswana continues to call for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe… We just came from our elective congress, and ZANU PF was represented very well…. The two ruling parties have relations, we are friends.”
President Masisi’s visit to Zimbabwe was a State visit, the BCP is therefore surprised at the partisan nature of his welcome, which is a foreign practice in the conduct of international relations, especially those of a sovereign nation.
President Masisi’s attempt to absolve ZANU PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the Zimbabwean crisis is not only an affront and insult to the suffering people of Zimbabwe, but it is also an attempt to revise history in the most deceptive way. It is similar to convincing us that Idi Amin was an honorable man.
The fact is, the sanctions are only targeted at designated people in Zimbabwe, who are key members of the Mugabe regime, including Mnangagwa. How this affects the economy of Zimbabwe is yet to be explained. President Masisi must confide in Batswana before he tells the world that he speaks on their behalf.
We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to introduce the necessary reforms that will allow for true democracy to thrive.
Repression of political opponents and intimidation of those that challenge the ZANU PF regime should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Instead of focusing on President Mnangagwa’s personal problem of sanctions, we pray the two must provide economic reliefs to Zimbabweans at home to scale down economic migrants in other countries.
Mnangagwa must stop repressive actions against citizens of Zimbabwe whose only crime is to offer alternative voice and express their democratic rights.
Provide a solution to the continuing cases of cattle rustling between the two countries. (Also required is) for the two to deliberate on democratic reforms that among others, would allow Zimbabweans in diaspora to participate in their country’s electoral processes, without having to cross borders.
The BCP believes that Zimbabwe can be better, and while the economic situation in Zimbabwe has trickle-down effect down south, blaming targeted sanctions, without resolving the above points, is not in the interest of an ordinary Zimbabwean.
Having noticed decline of democracy and the disregard of the rule of law in Botswana under the BDP government, the BCP hopes that the budding friendship between BDP and ZANU PF will not further undermine democracy in the two countries.
Mpho M. Pheko
BCP Information and Publicity Secretary