Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Khama in U-turn over Zim elections
Saturday, 17 August 2013 22:48
Caesar Zvayi in Lilongwe, Malawi

Botswana on Friday made an 11th-hour climbdown from its earlier intransigence of diverting from the rest of Africa over the credibility of Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections with its Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister, Mr Phandu Skelemani, claiming to have been misled by the MDC-T and some elements of civil society at home and abroad.

A source close to developments said Mr Skelemani requested a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi on the sidelines of the Sadc Troika meeting on Friday night as it became clear that Botswana’s position was becoming ridiculous in light of MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to back his allegations of rigging in court.

News had also filtered through that Mr Tsvangirai had withdrawn his court challenge.

After being apprised of developments, Mr Skelemani is said to have professed a Damascene moment, saying his country had been misled by the MDC-T and non-governmental organisations and also chided Zimbabwe for not effectively rebutting the claims over the voters’ roll.

The 573-member Sadc Election Observer Mission, which included observers drawn from Botswana, endorsed the harmonised elections along with the Sadc Electoral Commissions Forum that consisted of electoral bodies drawn from 10 Sadc member states, among them Botswana.

The Sadc ECF also endorsed the harmonised elections as free, fair and credible.

Botswana President Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama missed the opening ceremony where cheers for President Mugabe brought the house down, prompting him to stand up to pump his right fist in the air in acknowledgment of the chants of ‘‘comrade!, comrade!’’ that reverberated through the packed auditorium.

However, as fate would have it, Lieut-Gen Khama was put right next to President Mugabe when the leaders went for the traditional group photo where a sheepish grin was all the Batswana leader could muster as President Mugabe revelled in the resounding welcome he received from delegates and fellow progressive African leaders.

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