The Botswana government on Thursday replied a diplomatic jibe thrown at its president by his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
The 93-year-old leader whiles on an official visit to South Africa mocked the failure of Botswana’s candidate in elections for the African Union Commission chairperson post.
Mugabe’s target was not Botswana’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who lost the vote held in January this year but rather at President Ian Khama, who he blamed squarely for not supporting Venson-Moitoi.
However, the Ministry chooses not to comment any further out of respect for President Mugabe's advanced age and as such, understands that allowances need to be made.
What Mugabe reportedly said in South Africa
“We worked hard. They worked hard, sweated, they sweated, you sweated, we sweated, (but) one man didn’t sweat. He stayed at home and expected that wonders would happen and they didn’t happen.
“We were very sorry, everybody just said: ‘Aah, you. We have not seen your President here. He doesn’t attend our meetings and what would happen if we placed our organisation in your hands, in his hand? So sorry, lady’.
“She worked hard. She was very sorry to lose, we were sorry also, but we knew in advance that we were trying a very impossible one,” he told a South African delegation.
Botswana’s official response to Mugabe
The Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation’s statement of Thursday October 5, 2017; gave a background to Mugabe’s accusation against President Ian Khama and continued.
“In this connection, the Government of Botswana has taken note of the comments and regrets these inaccurate and unfortunate remarks.
“However, the Ministry chooses not to comment any further out of respect for President Mugabe’s advanced age and as such, understands that allowances need to be made.”
The Botswana leader is known to be an absentee at continental and global meeting of leaders. He is more often than not represented at the African Union and United Nations summits. Vice President, Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, represented him at the just ended 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
Mugabe – Khama spats have a history
The last time a Mugabe – Khama issue hit the news, it was in September 2016 when Khama asked Mugabe to step down after leading Zimbabwe for so long. 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 added.
Zimbabwe hit back almost immediately at Khama when Minister of Information, Chris Mushohwe, expressed resentment at his views.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is shocked by this uncharacteristic behaviour on the part of President Khama who until last month, was at the helm of Sadc and should know better that you don’t use the media platform to criticise fellow Sadc leaders,” he said in a statement.
Khama steps down when next Botswana goes to the polls, Mugabe on the other hand will be on the ballot for the ruling Zanu-PF when elections are held in 2018.