Botswana fed up


The Botswana government on Tuesday said it was increasingly getting tired of Zimbabwe’s endless political crisis.

Botswana Vice-President Mompati Merafhe said on the official government website the seemingly unending political impasse in Zimbabwe was taking steam out of Sadc leaders and derailing the regional bloc’s economic integration programmes each time they met.

“The most distressing part is that Sadc’s economic agenda is now digressing because we dissipate our energies talking about Zimbabwe,” said Merafhe, who represented his country at the just-ended Sadc Summit in Sandton, South Africa.

The VP said he regretted that finding a solution to the political problems in Zimbabwe was taking forever, adding: “We cannot keep going on and on when people are suffering.”

Merafhe said it was high time Zimbabwe was taken out of future Sadc agendas.

He said although regional leaders were doing their best to restore democracy and peace in Zimbabwe, lack of a proper election roadmap was hampering their efforts.

“I told the summit on behalf of my president that we are fatigued because the issue on Zimbabwe is taking forever,” said Merafhe.

He complained that while the Johannesburg meeting was primarily about economic integration, the Zimbabwe issue took the better part of the summit.

“The discussion on Zimbabwe and Madagascar that preceded the Tripartite Free Trade Area Summit was supposed to have taken a day, but it went beyond the stipulated time thus affecting the agenda of the next day,” he said.

Merafhe said if elections were to be held in Zimbabwe, the timing should be realistic and monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to make sure that issues of political violence and intimidation, among others, were addressed.

He said election monitors must be allowed in Zimbabwe two weeks before the elections and must be placed throughout the country if they were to effectively monitor issues of violence and intimidation.

Lately, Lindiwe Zulu, spokesperson for the South African facilitating team to the Zimbabwe crisis, who is also President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor, has been bluntly declaring the Zimbabwe problem was becoming a regional pest which needed to be dealt with once and for all to restore democracy.

“The simple fact is that people are tired,” Zulu said in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday. “People want to see democracy.

People need their voices to be heard. Those are the winds that are sweeping the continent, and people ignore them at their peril.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, Presidential spokesperson and Secretary for Information and Publicity George Charamba said there was no animosity between Zimbabwe and Botswana.

“Merafhe was just wishing Zimbabwe a good future. He just expressed concerns over the slow pace to reach a resolution in the Zimbabwe talks.

What is wrong if someone says our issue is taking too long to be resolved? Merafhe was wishing us a good future and nothing else,” said Charamba.

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