Botswana’s President Ian Khama has expressed concern at the continued failure of ZANU-PF to fully honour the spirit of the power-sharing agreement.
In his State of the Nation address to the First Session of the Tenth Parliament on Friday, Khama again suggested new elections as a way to break the impasse in Zimbabwe.
“In the absence of genuine partnership,” Khama said, “it would be better for all parties to go back to the people, for they are the ultimate authority to determine who should form the Government of Zimbabwe.”
He said that since independence, the core principles of Botswana’s foreign policy had remained constant.
“These include a commitment to promoting good neighbourliness and respect for territorial integrity of all nations, while upholding, in our international as well as domestic affairs, our belief in democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law,” said Khama, adding that Botswana would continue to work alongside other countries within the framework of SADC, the African Union, and the United Nations to promote the adherence to these common and universal values.
Zimbabwe held presidential elections last year with then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai winning the first round against veteran dictator Robert Mugabe but not with enough votes to avoid a run-off election.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off election, citing violence against his supporters.
The Southern African Development Community then forced the two principals to sign a power sharing agreement which has been rocked by Mugabe’s refusal to adhere to some of the agreed points.
“In this respect, we will continue to strongly defend the rights of people everywhere to elect their own leaders, to live in peace and achieve better standards of life in freedom.”
As a case in point, Khama alluded to Botswana’s “support for the people of Zimbabwe towards reaching political reconciliation and economic reconstruction, through the Global Political Agreement”.
Botswana has emerged as the sole voice against Mugabe’s posturing. A few weeks ago, Khama said that should the agreement fall apart, Mugabe should not expect any recognition were he to remain as the sole leader of the Zimbabwean government.
On Friday, Khama said that one thing which he fears may become a trend in Africa if not stopped, is where an individual and/or a political party, in order to come into power or stay in power, engage in unconstitutional and undemocratic actions to achieve this, which “as we have already witnessed”, result in power sharing arrangements and one man rule.
“There can be no substitution for free, fair and credible elections, where people in any country should be allowed to elect representatives of their choice, and not have them imposed on them through rigged elections, brutalizing opponents, military interventions, constitutional amendments to stay longer in power, and one man rule that goes on for decades.”
Khama said every country has a pool of people who have the ability to lead.