The US$64million credit facility which the Botswana government extended to Zimbabwe ostensibly to help jump-start various programmes under the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme was actually meant to prop up the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai ÔÇô it has since emerged.
The facility was carefully planned not to benefit ZANU-PF led by Robert Mugabe in the government of national unity with MDC, while at the same time helping to present Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe’s savior Leaked WikiLeaks cables reveal how Botswana’s former Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe confided to for US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that, “Botswana would balance support for Zimbabwean social ministries controlled by the MDC and revitalization of the economy with the necessity of continuing to deny access to foreign credit to ZANU-PF leaders.
To this end, Botswana had launched bank credits for select Zimbabwean business firms, but would tightly monitor the program.” Rice met Merafhe who had gone to New York to accept recognition of Botswana as “the best African country of the year” by the Celebrate Africa Foundation. The two leaders were discussing “the difficulty of balancing the need to avoid strengthening ZANU-PF hardliners while assisting the MDC to show that their party can bring about improvements to the life of ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Merafhe told Rice that “Botswana was trying to assist MDC in improving the economic situation by providing a 500 million USD loan facility to selected private Zimbabwe business firms. He stated that the government would work with the SADC finance ministers working group to ensure that ZANU-PF hardliners would not have access to hard currency through this line of credit.” Merafhe suggested that the United States might best support the MDC by providing assistance for education and health in Zimbabwe, including funds for enhancing teacher salaries.
The two ministries were also controlled by MDC. He thought the United States Government should consult the Zimbabwe Finance Minister, a MDC post, on ways to ensure that such funds could not be siphoned off by the ZANU-PF. At the time, Botswana had broken ranks with most SADC member states and had joined western countries in aligning with MDC against ZANU PF. It emerges from the WikiLeaks cables that following the controversy surrounding elections allegedly rigged by Mugabe Botswana joined the west in helping to project Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe’s legitimate president.
The American Embassy Political Office in Zimbabwe was informed that Tsvangirai who went on a brief exile after the controversial elections was planning to return to Zimbabwe and “would like to be greeted at the airport by as many diplomats as possible. A British diplomat based in Pretoria told Political Office that Harare-based British High Commissioner Pocock plans on greeting Tsvangirai in a show of support. It was also revealed that the Botswana government will be transporting a fleet of cars for Tsvangirai to use once in Harare.”
It emerged that Tanzanian President Kikwete provided Tsvangirai with a full motorcade during his visit to Dar es Salaam and called him “Your Excellency” throughout the meeting.