A Namibian state-owned daily newspaper, the New Era, Friday accused Botswana of declaring war against Zimbabwe after Botswana officials were quoted as saying that the region should shut its borders against Zimbabwe to force Robert Mugabe out of power. The newspaper, whose views are meant to reflect the thinking of the Namibian government, said that Botswana’s call for complete closure of borders with Zimbabwe was ‘a declaration of war’, adding that “brazen advocacy for regime change could escalate tension between the two countries”.
Although the Namibian government, a long time ally of the Mugabe administration, seems to have taken a position against Botswana, the international community, on the other hand, was this week closing ranks around Botswana.
The United States said on Friday that President Robert Mugabe’s departure from office was long overdue and a food crisis and cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe meant it was now vital for the international community to act.
“It’s well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave,” U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said in Copenhagen.
In a further sign of growing international pressure, European Union diplomats said the bloc planned more sanctions against Zimbabwe next week unless progress was made in ending a political deadlock over how to implement a power-sharing deal.
Nobel laureate and South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said on Thursday that Mugabe must step down or be removed by force and that the Zimbabwean leader faced indictment for war crimes in the Hague unless he quit.
Tutu said African nations should use military force to depose Mugabe if he refuses to relinquish power.
The retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, told Dutch current affairs show, Nova, that Mugabe must leave office “if not voluntarily, then by a military intervention from his African neighbours. “If they say to him, step down and he refuses, they must go in … militarily,” Tutu said in an interview broadcast late Thursday.
Rice, on the other hand, said the stalled power-sharing talks, a “sham election” earlier this year, economic meltdown and the humanitarian toll from the cholera epidemic required swift action.
“If this is not evidence to the international community that it’s time to stand up for what is right I don’t know what will be,” Rice told a news conference. “Frankly the nations of the region have to lead it.”
Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, joined the call for Mugabe’s ouster, accusing the ZANU PF leader of not being committed to resolving long dragging political crisis.
“I do believe strongly that if the leadership in South Africa took a firm stand and told Mugabe to quit he will have no choice but to do so,” the Kenyan PM said.
He said increased pressure on Mugabe would leave him a little choice but to resign as president of Zimbabwe.
The Namibian newspaper, however, singled out Botswana, which has become the storm trooper for Zimbabwean change. The New Era editorial said Botswana’s call for the complete closure of borders with Zimbabwe by its neighbours to effect Mugabe’s downfall “amounts to a declaration of war through other means against its northern neighbour. It is a subtle call to arms and very dangerous.”
”Botswana’s bellicose behaviour is also reflected in its open invitation to the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, to relocate to Botswana and set up a so-called “democratic resistance movement”, an apparent code phrase for a military project.” stated the New Era editorial.