President Robert Mugabe’s government today accused Botswana President Ian Khama of interference and said his call for fresh elections to solve Zimbabwe’s political crisis was an “act of extreme provocation”.
Khama, who has emerged as one of Mugabe’s staunchest critics in Africa, told Botswana’s parliament on Monday that an election was the only way out of the deadlock that threatens to derail a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“The statement he has made to his country is an act of extreme provocation to Zimbabwe,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying in Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Herald newspaper. “He has no right under international law as an individual or country to interfere in our domestic affairs.”
Emergency summit in South Africa
The diplomatic row occurred just days before the Southern African Development Community, a 15-nation regional bloc, was scheduled to hold an emergency summit in South Africa to discuss the political stalemate in Zimbabwe. A smaller SADC meeting in Harare last month failed to break the impasse.
Mugabe and the leaders of MDC agreed on September 15 to share power, but talks have stalled over control of ministries. Setting up a unity government is seen as critical to reversing an economic meltdown in the southern African nation.
Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid widespread shortages of meat, milk and other basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the agricultural sector. The country is dependent on food handouts and malnutrition is on the rise.
Tsvangirai, who would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal, has accused Mugabe’s Zanu-PF of trying to seize the lion’s share of important ministries to try to relegate the MDC to the role of junior partner. The MDC won a March parliamentary election. – Reuters