The government of Botswana has urged Zimbabwean opponents Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, who signed an agreement to form a government of nation unity on September 15, 2008, to accept the outcome of the SADC Summit and “to open a new chapter of building mutual trust and confidence for the common good of the people of Zimbabwe”.
At a SADC Summit in South Africa two days ago, SADC leaders instructed both Mugabe and Tsvangirai “to endeavor to cause parliament to pass the Constitutional Amendment 19 by February 5, 2009”. The Amendment creates the constitutional accommodation of a government of national unity.
SADC leaders ruled that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers be sworn in by February 11, 2009, with cabinet Minister and Deputy Ministers being sworn in on February 13, 2009, concluding the process of the formation of the inclusive government.
“The government of the Republic of Botswana welcomes the outcome of the January 26-27, 2009 Extra-Ordinary Summit which sort to assist parties to the Global Political Agreement move forward the process of resolving the crisis of legitimacy in Zimbabwe and put an end to the suffering and difficult challenges facing people of that country,” read a surprisingly muted statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement added that Botswana had hoped that the signing of the Global Political Agreement last September would usher in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence, good faith and commitment to genuine power sharing.
“Regrettably, this has not been the case and very little or no progress has been made in the implementation of the agreement.”
Since the much criticized elections of June last year in which Mugabe was the sole candidate after Tsvangirai withdrew sighting violence against his supporters, Botswana became the most vocal critic of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.
Botswana later was on record as saying it did not agree with what SADC had decreed on Zimbabwe and pursued a path different from that of SADC.
After a SADC Summit in November last year, Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani said that Botswana wished to reiterate its strongly held view that if the Agreement could not be implemented as soon as possible, the international community should demand a re-run of the Presidential election in Zimbabwe “under international supervision so that the long suffering people of Zimbabwe can resolve the impasse by voting to decide who their true leaders should be”.
Skelemani then added that Botswana recognized that decisions in SADC are reached by consensus, after which they reflect the collective position of the organization. “However, it would be remiss of us if we did not express our strong reservations/disagreements, as we did during the summit.”
With today’s statement, it appears as if Botswana has returned back into the much criticized SADC fold and is now in support of SADC’s approach.
“The time lines set by the Extra-ordinary Summit for the formation of an all inclusive government represent a significant and critical step to the effective implementation of the global Political Agreement,” said Botswana today. “It is our hope that what transpired in the discussions on the concerns raised by the MDC-T at the Extra-Ordinary Summit impressed upon the parties to the Global Political Agreement the importance of addressing the outstanding issues in a spirit of mutual trust and good faith which has so far been lacking.”
The Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government met at the Presidential Guest house in Pretoria, South Africa, on January 26-27, 2009 to review the implementation of the Zimbabwe Global Political Agreement.
“The next few weeks will be important in terms of what the people of Zimbabwe can do to bring about national reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economy,” the government of Botswana said.
However, soon after the Summit on Tuesday, the MDC said that there was no prospect of the MDC forming a unity government with ZANU-PF, describing SADC directives as malicious resolutions.
“It was our expectation that the SADC processes would be above board and be beyond reproach,” the MDC said in a statement following the release of the SADC communiqu├®.
“Regrettably once again we note that Mr. Mugabe was allowed to sit in during the closed session of the plenary meetings. Thus, once again, Mr. Mugabe has been unfairly allowed to be a judge in his own cause. As far as the merits are concerned, our expectations were again that SADC would come up with a just resolution to the outstanding issues in the interest of Zimbabwe and all the parties concerned.
“Quite clearly the conclusions reached as reflected in the communiqu├® fall far short of our expectations. Most importantly they do not accord with our National Council resolutions of the 14th of November 2008 and 12th of December 2008. It is important that finality be brought to this issue and therefore our National Council will meet on Friday 30th of January 2008 to define the party position.”
This also comes amid reports of a serious rift between Tsvangirai and his Secretary General, Tendai Biti.
The Zimbabwe Times on Tuesday reported that factionalism, which first emerged after the party withdrew from the Presidential run-off of June 27, 2008, which Tsvangirai boycotted leaving Mugabe to contest alone and eventually claim victory, grew after the power-sharing agreement that was signed three months later and worsened on Monday.
“There has always been bad blood between the two leaders since the run-off vote,” the Times quoted one source as saying.
“Things got worse when Tsvangirai eventually signed the power-sharing agreement with Mugabe on September 15, against advice from other top party officials, led by Biti, who wanted out of the deal, after the document had been altered.”
The sources said that Biti and a few other top party officials were against a unity government that leaves Mugabe fully in charge of the country, saying that instead, the MDC should mobilize for fresh polls.
Biti is said to have the backing of the party’s powerful treasurer, Roy Bennett, while Tsvangirai is backed by his deputy, Thokozani Khupe and party organizing secretary, Elias Mudzuri.