The opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has criticized President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s blind calls for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the west while ignoring what prompted the measures in the first place.
Addressing hundreds of Zanu PF supporters who thronged Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to welcome him and his entourage on Thursday, Masisi demanded the removal of sanctions which he said amounted to a act of sanctions against his own country.
The Botswana leader, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his side, said verbatim: “Botswana continues to call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe… We have just come out of our elective congress and ZANU PF was very well represented… The two ruling parties have relations, we are friends.”
However, his comments were met with dismay by opponents in Zimbabwe, who chastised their head of state for allegedly forgetting that he was in fact on a state visit to Zimbabwe.
In a hard-hitting statement on Sunday, BCP Information and Publicity Secretary Mpho M. Pheko said his party was surprised at the partisan nature of Masisi’s reception.
WE REPRODUCE THE COMPLETE STATEMENT BELOW:
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is concerned about the insidious remarks made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi during his recent state visit to Zimbabwe.
Our indignation stems from the irresponsible commentary of President Masisi who takes no account of the political and economic situation prevailing in our neighbours.
Here are his words, transcribed verbatim: “Botswana continues to call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe… We have just come out of our elected congress, and ZANU PF was very well represented… The two ruling parties have relations, we are friends. “
President Masisi’s visit to Zimbabwe was a state visit, so the BCP is surprised at the partisan nature of his welcome, which is a foreign practice in the conduct of international relations, especially those of a sovereign nation.
President Masisi’s attempt to absolve ZANU PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zimbabwean crisis is not only an affront and insult to the suffering people of Zimbabwe, but it is also an attempt to revise the history of the most deceptive way. This amounts to convincing us that Idi Amin was an honorable man.
The fact is that the sanctions only target named individuals in Zimbabwe, who are key members of the Mugabe regime, including Mnangagwa. How this affects Zimbabwe’s economy remains to be explained. President Masisi must confide in Batswana before telling the world that he speaks on their behalf.
We call on the government of Zimbabwe to introduce the necessary reforms that will allow true democracy to flourish.
The repression of political opponents and the intimidation of those who challenge the ZANU PF regime must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Instead of focusing on the personal problem of President Mnangagwa’s sanctions, we pray that the two should provide economic relief to Zimbabweans at home to reduce economic migrants in other countries.
Mnangagwa must stop the repressive actions against the citizens of Zimbabwe whose only crime is to provide an alternative voice and express their democratic rights.
Provide a solution to the persistent cases of cattle rustling between the two countries. (It is also necessary) that the two deliberate on democratic reforms which, among other things, would allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to participate in their country’s electoral processes, without having to cross borders.
The BCP believes that Zimbabwe can be better, and although the economic situation in Zimbabwe is having an impact on the south, blaming targeted sanctions, without resolving the above points, is not in the interest of a Zimbabwean ordinary.
Having witnessed the decline of democracy and contempt for the rule of law in Botswana under the BDP government, the BCP hopes that the burgeoning friendship between the BDP and ZANU PF will not further undermine democracy in both countries.
BCP Information and Publicity Secretary