WHY BOTSWANA PRESIDENT MASISI SO SILENT?Where art thou President Masisi? Zimbabwe is burning
The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is concerned at the silence of the Botswana government on the ongoing state-sponsored violence against the people of Zimbabwe.
As the incoming chairman of the SADC Trioka Organ on Politics and Security, we would have expected President Mokgweetsi Masisi to be leading regional Government voices condemning and cautioning President Emerson Mnangagwa against the continued abuse of civilians by the security forces. As a neighbour who has always been the host of political and economic refugees from troubled Zimbabwe and SADC, Botswana especially, should be in the forefront of ensuring stability prevails in Zimbabwe.
State sponsored violence against ordinary Zimbabweans is not a new thing, and it will be recalled that former President Ian Khama, the BPF patron, was a constant and sole voice against the violent regime of the late president Robert Mugabe.
When Mnangagwa came to power, in a ‘democratic’ coup, there was hope that the culture of state sponsored violence would end, and that democracy and economic revival would be on the new leader’s agenda. It was never to be as witnessed by what has been happening recently. The past few days have seen citizens experiencing a high level of political intolerance, violence metted on the streets: on the poor fighting hunger, striking doctors seeking basic protective clothing and medical equipment in the fight against Covid-19, opposition activists and journalists who continue to risk their families’ lives to stand with the oppressed nation. The kidnappings, torture and arrests of activists should have been enough reason for president Masisi and fellow SADC leaders to step up and engage their counterpart in Zimbabwe.
If Masisi could travel to Zimbabwe during Covid-19 Lockdown, in Botswana and Zimbabwe, to accept the SADC Trioka chairmanship, nothing stops him from engaging Regional leaders, in virtual meetings, to find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.
Could it be our government and the ruling party finds no wrong doing by their friends because they themselves are prone to political intolerance. The arrests of political activists and journalists under Masisi’s State of Emergency protocols, is reason enough to believe that his administration can easily borrow the Mnangagwa regime some tactics. Moreover the political intolerance of the BDP was witnessed recently when their members attacked BPF activists in Kumakwane when we tried register new members.
Could Masisi be reluctant to publicly condemn his friend Mnangagwa because they are both guilty of election rigging? We just have to wonder why as neighbours, who have had to deal with an influx of Zimbabwean refugees, would turn a blind eye to the current brutal terror of the Mnangagwa regime.
The BPF wishes to therefore call on the Botswana government and president Masisi to step up and lead in the condemnation of the Zimbabwean government and issue stern warning against the Mnangagwa regime. Should Mnangagwa prove intransigent the Botswana regime should close the Zimbabwean embassy in Gaborone as a punitive act.
We also call on the civil society to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. Betsho, Motswana a re matlo gosha mabapi. Molelo oo kwa Zimbabwe o tla re hisa. A re emeng re o time!
Biggie Ganda Butale
President Botswana Patriotic Front