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Zimbabwe Accuses Botswana of Meddling


President Robert Mugabe's government is accusing Botswana President Ian Khama of infringing upon Zimbabwe's sovereignty after Khama reportedly said the only way to resolve the political crisis is through a fresh elections. Harare described President Khama's statement as an act of extreme provocation, which it claims is an affront to all Zimbabweans. Khama, who has been a harsh critic of President Mugabe's rule, said that fresh elections was the only way out of the deadlock that threatens to derail a power-sharing deal between the ruling ZANU-PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The diplomatic row between Harare and Gabarone comes ahead of a Southern African Development Community scheduled emergency meeting this weekend to find ways of resolving Zimbabwe's stalled negotiations between the government and the opposition.

George Mkwananzi is a Zimbabwean political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from South Africa's capital, Pretoria that Harare's outrage is unfounded.

"To start with, it is not surprising that the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe has responded to criticism coming from Botswana the way they have done. If you listen carefully, you can hear that it is a very militant response, especially as it alludes around the nature of extreme provocation and casting the whole issues as if it is something bordering on war. That is the kind of language that ZANU-PF loves and we are not surprised that the spokesman for such kind of talk is none other than Patrick Chinamasa," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He said the ruling party has a knack for being harsh on their critics.

"It has become quite a tradition for ZANU-PF to respond to all the people that criticize them legitimately and justly in the manner that they have done. However, if other countries like Namibia's president praised them they welcome it. But if the same member of SADC decides to criticize them, then they behave the way that they have done," he said.

Mkwananzi sharply disagrees with Harare over its claims that Gabarone is interfering in Zimbabwe's internal political dynamics.

"I don't agree with such sentiment. A member of SADC and indeed a member of the international community are right to raise concerns when issues like what is happening in Zimbabwe where there is extreme breakdown of everything, including humanitarian structures, which have collapsed like that to express that concern and hope that something moves fast so that tings normalize. So, what the president of Botswana has done is to just express those concerns because the talks have not been able to produce things that would soon ameliorate the conditions of the people of Zimbabwe," Mkwananzi pointed out.

President Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change agreed on September 15 to share power, but talks have stalled over control of ministries.

Forming a unity government is seen as critical to reversing the economic meltdown in the southern African nation.

Meanwhile, main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal, has accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF of trying to seize the lion's share of important ministries to try to relegate the MDC to the role of junior partner.