Friday, December 05, 2008

Khama likens Zim to a big refugee camp

Khama likens Zim to a big refugee camp
Written by George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:27:38 PM

BOTSWANA President Major General Ian Khama has likened Zimbabwe to a big refugee camp full of suffering and misery. And President Khama said Zimbabweans are currently worse than they were under Ian Smith's minority rule. During a special interview on Botswana Television (BTV), President Khama bemoaned the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. "I describe Zimbabwe as a big refugee camp full of suffering and misery," he said.

President Khama condemned the decision by Zimbabwean authorities to deny the Elders entry in the country to assess the humanitarian situation.

"In a power-sharing, Mugabe cannot unilaterally stop those people [the Elders] from coming. That's why we are saying nothing has changed in Zimbabwe," he said.

He said Botswana would not have any bilateral relations with Zimbabwe at a political level.

"There is no government there. Some of those people Mugabe is using as ministers lost the elections, so they are not supposed to be there," he said.

President Khama further spoke against African ruling parties that rig elections in order to remain in power, saying power-sharing deals with such parties were setting a bad precedent for the continent. He maintained his call for fresh elections in Zimbabwe so that people could choose their leader.

President Khama urged the regional bloc - Southern African Development Community (SADC) - to come out publicly on the Zimbabwe crisis.

"That's why we have broken ranks, if I may put it that way...because quiet diplomacy is not working," he said.

President Khama said some countries in the region had not been critical on the Zimbabwean crisis because of their historical links with ZANU-PF.

President Khama, who publicly stated that there is currently no ruling party in Zimbabwe, said even Botswana share history with Zimbabwe concerning the days of the liberation struggle.

"The reason for the liberation was to free the people from minority rule. Zimbabweans today are worse than they were under Smith," President Khama said.

And Zimbabwe's MDC has condemned the recent harassments and arrests of civic leaders.

"The police in Harare arrested ZCTU deputy secretary-general Japhet Moyo, Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe and several members of the ZCTU general council as security agents violently moved in to quell the labour union's national protest against the inadequate cash withdrawals from the banks," MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said. "The MDC condemns ZANU-PF's terror tactics. We believe that the workers' rights are inviolable and inalienable and any democratic authority should allow workers to exercise their constitutional rights of assembly and movement. We believe that the ZCTU's peaceful protest was justified as the people cannot survive on the $500 000 daily maximum withdrawal limit."

He said the cash shortages and high inflation signify the general collapse of all sectors in the country due to misgovernance, corruption and patronage.

"The Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed between the three major political parties guarantees the basic freedoms and rights of people to express themselves. The latest acts of thuggery are a clear indication that there is no paradigm shift on the part of ZANU-PF to act in accordance with the GPA. ZANU-PF remains the undemocratic party of terror and thuggery," said Chamisa. "It remains the epicentre of repression of the people's basic rights and freedoms. It remains the haven and sanatorium of an unstinting instinct that believes that the solution to all problems lies in violence and repression.

ZANU-PF's actions on the ground undermine their commitment on paper. The practicalities on the ground basically show that the leopard has not changed its spots. In the new Zimbabwe that we envision, never again should a government violently clamp down on innocent people for expressing themselves. Never again will a police force be allowed to beat up citizens for demanding a daily withdrawal limit that will enable them to provide food and other basic service to their families. Never again should a people run away from their own police force whose duty is to offer protection and professional service."

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