NATA: Has Botswana relaxed its hard stance on the political crisis in Zimbabwe?
This is the question after a representative of Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF, Judith Mkwanda addressed the 13th Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women Wing's Congress in Nata. Mkwanda even presented a token of appreciation to Botswana President Ian Khama in the form of artifacts, which were approved by the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.
It was all pomp and glory at the top table at the Nata Senior Secondary School as BDP women shouted Pamberi na ZANU-PF as Mkwanda took to the podium before presenting a token of appreciation to Khama. The two parties representatives then addressed each other as old political friends only divided by international boundaries. It was like the two political organisations had just discovered each other's worth. This is a far cry from the hardline stance taken by the BDP and the Botswana government against ZANU-PF and Mugabe after disputed elections in 2008.
After the silent diplomacy under former president Festus Mogae, Botswana's foreign policy on Zimbabwe changed after Khama came to power in April 2008. Khama's government wasted no time in telling off Mugabe and ZANU-PF for their dictatorial ways and siding with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change under current Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
BDP executive secretary, Dr Comma Serema explains the turn of events by saying that what was obtained immediately after the Zimbabwean general elections in 2008 is not necessarily applicable now. "We have a long established relationship with the ZANU-PF, and our policy is that as a ruling party, we want to go to other countries and work with the ruling parties there," said Serema.
He stressed that as the ruling party, they cooperate with other ruling parties in the region regardless of the political theories and beliefs that they pursue. "Our interest is to establish bi-lateral relationships and friendships which could help us benefit from them and vice versa," he pointed out. "It's not new that we find ourselves working with the ZANUPF closely as we have always worked with them over other important areas," he stated.