A few days after denying Botswana coalition of Non Governmental Organisations two permits to march against the Zimbabwean situation, President Ian Khama launched a scarthing attack on President Robert Mugabe, a move that sources say shocked NGOs.
A group of NGOs say they wanted to march on September 16, 2016 but were denied permits by the Officer Commanding of No. 3 District at Broadhurst Police Station on the grounds that the march was “likely to cause or lead to a breach of peace”. They wrote a second request to hold a gathering at Gaborone Senior Secondary School grounds which was denied on the same grounds.
This week Khama granted an international news agency, Reuters an interview in which he denounced Mugabe.
In the interview, Khama said Mugabe should have long quit the presidency.
“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over,” Khama said.
“It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he’s not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament,” Khama remarked. “If the government genuinely subscribes to these views about Zimbabwe why then would they deny people with similar sentiments a permit to march and gather. What peace disturbance was the police talking about, the President should know that his voice alone is not enough,” a government high-ranking source said.
The government spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay in a brief interview with Mmegi said he does not think there is any relation to the issues.
“ I do not think there is any relation, absolutely not,” he responded.
The civil society, Ditshwanelo, Botswana Council of Churches, Botswana Council of NGOs, BOSETU and MISA say they wanted too address other issues haunting the economically and politically shattered state of Zimbabwe.
“The purpose of the march was to raise awareness about social, economic and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,” reads the coalition’s statement which further says the Botswana civil society solidarity coalition for Zimbabwe wishes to express its concern about the decision made by the police about the march and gathering at GSS grounds.
The NGOs called on the government to provide speedy responses to requests which are submitted requesting permission to march and gather, further saying delayed responses can contribute to unfortunate reactions borne out of frustrations. They further implored the government to provide specific reasons when declining a request for permission to march in accordance with the rules of natural justice and not merely their potential outcomes.