The Zimbabwe government is sharply criticizing Botswana over its call for neighboring countries to squeeze embattled President Robert Mugabe out of power. Gaborone contends that forcing President Mugabe out of power would end the escalating political and economic crises in Zimbabwe. But Harare has described the Botswana pronouncement as an affront to Zimbabwe's sovereignty, adding it would not tolerate such impudence. Botswana has also called on members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to take a robust stance by isolating President Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF administration. George Mkwananzi is a Zimbabwean political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabweans welcome Botswana's uncompromising stance.
"This is a really practical and realistic approach to the problem of Zimbabwe, which is very refreshing coming in the backdrop of tampering coming from the likes of Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders who have not been very firmed in their dealings with Robert Mugabe. I think the approach must change and it must change radically. And this call by Botswana is what the people of Zimbabwe will really welcome," Mkwananzi noted.
He disagreed with Harare's assertion that Gaborone is infringing on Zimbabwe's sovereignty.
"I think this is sheer madness on the part of Robert Mugabe and members of his regime to claim that it is interference on their sovereignty because that sovereign country is actually squeezing its own population and is actually killing its people. The international community, particularly the neighbors cannot fold their arms and watch innocent civilians being murdered by an irresponsible, illegitimate and illegal regime. So, it is a responsibility on their part to save and redeem the situation in Zimbabwe by way of intervening in whichever way to ensure that the crisis does not continue, "he said
Mkwananzi said there was need for Zimbabwe's neighbors to support Gaborone's call for leaders in the region to isolate the Zimbabwe leadership.
"If they are reasonable, if they have borne the brunt of Zimbabweans living in their own country pouring into other countries like South Africa has done, then they should see that there is a need to heed the call from Botswana," Mkwananzi pointed out.
He said the crisis in Zimbabwe is specifically having a telling effect on neighboring South Africa.
"South Africa in particular has been receiving hoards of Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa. And of late, we know that there are people carrying with them diseases, which are going to affect the South African population, and this would not end there. So, it would surely put pressure on the South African fiscals having to take care of unbudgeted presence of people of Zimbabwe within their midst. So, South Africa must be the first country that must take heed of what the government of Botswana is suggesting, and then the rest of the region should back that initiative," he said.
Mkwananzi said South Africa has not been tough on President Robert Mugabe's failure to implement the recently signed power-sharing agreement with the opposition.
"It's absolutely true. South Africa has been putting pressure more on the opposition to accept an unfair and inequitable deal in Zimbabwe. Instead of barking to the correct tree, they are barking at the wrong tree. They are allowing Robert Mugabe run Scott free instead of asking him to allow meaningful degree of power to go to the opposition," Mkwananzi noted.
Meanwhile, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says there has been no progress in Tuesday's power-sharing talks with the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Negotiators from Mugabe's ZANU-PF, and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a breakaway MDC faction began meeting Tuesday with former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki who is mediating to try to agree on a draft constitutional amendment. The amendment would allow a new unity government to be formed under the power-sharing deal with Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai as prime minister, but the parties are still arguing over wording and the allocation of ministries.