President Ian Khama has reportedly made a major climbdown regarding the harmonized elections in Zimbabwe, describing them as free and peaceful and a reflection of the will of the people. He is also said to have endorsed President Robert Mugabe and his government.
Reports in the mainly state controlled Zimbabwean media come at a time after Botswana Government issued a statement on Monday quoting President Khama as saying that Zimbabwe has a recognised President and Government which the Government of Botswana would be working with for improved relations.
“The perspective of the Government of Botswana, as well as a dossier drafted by Botswana team of election observer mission on the just ended Zimbabwe harmonised elections had been submitted to SADC,” says the release.
The release states that SADC has reiterated its collective call for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe which has also been the national position of Botswana.
According to the Sunday Mail of Zimbabwe, speaking after meeting President Mugabe for a closed door one on one meeting ÔÇô Khama, who had been the odd one out, during the entire SADC meeting , said his country now stood guided by SADC.
Reports indicate that earlier on Sunday, President Mugabe engaged in bilateral meeting with Khama in Malawi. Khama, whose Government has been refusing to acknowledge President Mugabe’s resounding victory, on Friday made a major climb down.
Mugabe’s mouthpiece claims Botswana’s Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister, Phandu Skelemani, had been misled by the MDC-T and some elements of civil society at home and abroad on the conditions surrounding the polls.
The paper quotes a source close to developments as saying that Skelemani requested a meeting with Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi on the sidelines of the SADC Troika meeting on Friday night as it became clear that Botswana’s position was becoming ridiculous in light of MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to back his allegations of rigging in court.
Tsvangirai withdrew his court challenge on Friday last week.
“It is not a question of Botswana alone endorsing the Zimbabwe election results. We have accepted the results as a collective as far as SADC is concerned,” said Skelemani. He also confirmed reports that President Khama had a one on one meeting with President Mugabe.
“But I’m not privy to what they discussed,” he said. While he denied reports that he told the Zimbabwean foreign Minister that Botswana was misled by Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, Skelemani confirmed that he had a meeting with his counterpart.
“Reports linking me to being misled by MDC-T are false. I met their foreign Minister and told him that our election observer mission expressed concern about evidence of possible shortfalls including the fact that the voters’ rolls were released two days before the election. His reply was that everyday voters were registering,” he said.
Skelemani added: “When we called for the audit of the electoral process, we were not dependent on MDC T, and there is nowhere MDC-T features in our statement calling for an audit, so how could they mislead us; that I said they misled us is lies.”
He said there was no turning back on the call for an audit on the just ended Zimbabwe elections, saying Khama has written to Tanzania, whose president Jakaya Kikwete, officially constituted the SADC Election Observation Mission (SEOM) to the Republic of Zimbabwe.