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Botswana Denies Policy Change

BOTSWANA has reacted sharply to claims carried in the state media that it had softened its stance on Zimbabwe after it was initially “misled” by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the political crisis in the country.

 

State media reported this week that some Sadc leaders apologised to President Robert Mugabe during the regional bloc’s summit at the weekend in Sandton for their stance against his government.

The Herald claimed that leaders from Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania expressed “embarrassment” at having “blindly supported” Tsvangirai on the political situation in the country.

The leaders reportedly said a briefing they got on Zimbabwe from South African President Thabo Mbeki during the summit had enlightened them.

The newspaper quoted Botswana’s Foreign Minister, Phandu Skelemani, as saying that Tsvangirai had lied to his country.

But the Botswana Foreign ministry on Wednesday dismissed the reports and insisted it did not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe.

“The Botswana government has not altered its position on Zimbabwe and the reports from the Harare Herald are misleading,” the Foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Herald in its report claimed that African countries were warming up to Mugabe after realising that they had been lied to by Tsvangirai.

“The biggest surprise, however, came from Nigeria, which sent a high profile emissary to South Africa on Sunday to seek a meeting with President Mugabe and offer apologies for taking an uninformed position on Zimbabwe’s electoral processes during the last AU summit in Egypt,” the story claimed.

The newspaper further said that Botswana –– whose leader Ian Khama boycotted the Sadc summit protesting against Mugabe’s presence –– had softened its position after being lied to by Tsvangirai.

“He (Skelemani) said his analysis of the situation was that Tsvangirai had misled them on Zimbabwe’s political processes,” the Herald claimed. But Botswana says there has been no change in its position on Zimbabwe.

Botswana is among countries that include Nigeria, Liberia, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia, which have not endorsed Mugabe’s re-election, seeing the process as flawed.

By Loughty Dube

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