FRANCISTOWN: Shaw Kgathi says Botswana has observed calm after a brief storm in the Zimbabwean elections, and is confident the political situation there will not totally spiral out of control.
This is following allegations that the ruling ZANU-PF rigged the elections in Zimbabwe. The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, was responding to The Monitor enquiry on whether Botswana’s security agencies had their ears on the ground in case of nasty eventualities occasioned by a clash between Zimbabwe’s security forces and supporters of Nelson Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)and its Alliance on Wednesday.
The alleged MDC Alliance supporters were reportedly protesting against the elections that they claim were rigged by ZANU-PF, which is leading by a huge margin in the National Assembly polls in cohorts with the national election management body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
According to media reports from Zimbabwe, members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) killed three people following violent protests in Harare. Kgathi said: “We have a lot of confidence that the government of Zimbabwe will handle the situation very well. We don’t anticipate that the situation will turn for the worst, but have hopes that it would be resolved amicably”. Kgathi also noted that they regularly meet with their Zimbabwe counterparts through the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to discuss security and other issues of mutual concern between the two sisterly countries.
“We have met with our Zimbabwe counterparts during and after the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and discussed security issues. “We were assured that the security agencies in Zimbabwe have enough capacity to
Even after Mnangagwa’s visit, I was fortunate to be part of a delegation that visited Zimbabwe shortly after Masisi was inaugurated this year and we also deliberated on issues of mutual interest between our countries. We also discussed security matters during that visit,” an optimistic Kgathi said. He reiterated: “We are not anticipating anything bad to happen in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the recent elections”.
In 2008, Botswana bore the brunt of the disputed harmonised elections in Zimbabwe that many say were won by the main opposition MDC that was led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
The then ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe, who was deposed in a military assisted coup last year, was accused of rigging the elections and of using brutal force to instill fear in Tsvangirai’s supporters, forcing the latter to boycott the presidential election run-off. Political commentators said Mugabe used Machiavellian tactics to win the elections in which he was the sole contender.
Following the run-off election, scores of Zimbabweans fled to Botswana and neighbouring countries entering illegally without using travel documents. Botswana currently uses a lot of money to feed many Zimbabweans in the country’s jails and deport Zimbabwe’s illegal immigrants almost on a daily basis.