Botswana President Ian Khama says his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe should have stepped aside as president a long time ago. He says Mugabe should accept the reality of his advancing years and retire.
According to Khama, the 92-year-old should without delay exit the post of president and allow new leadership because Zimbabwe’s political and economic implosion since 2000 is dragging down the whole of southern Africa.
63-year-old Khama in response to a Reuters question of whether Mugabe should step down said: “Without doubt. He should have done it years ago.”
“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over. 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 stated.
His comments are seen as a breach in African diplomatic circles where its is considered a taboo to criticise fellow leaders.
Mugabe is the only political head Zimbabwe has had since they attained independence from Britain in 1980. Khama on the other hand is the son of Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama. He was born in Britain and is married to a Brit, Ruth.
Khama has a reputation as one of Africa’s most outspoken figures, his remarks are certain to ruffle feathers in Harare, where factions of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party are reportedly in talks over who to succeed Mugabe.
Botswana, is the world’s largest producer of diamonds, shares 800 km (500 miles) of border with Zimbabwe and has felt the full effects of its neighbour’s economic collapse under the weight of political violence and hyperinflation since 2000.