Botswana's foreign minister has rejected accusations by
Zimbabwe that Botswana was training Zimbabwe opposition members to overthrow
President Robert Mugabe.
The allegations were made as the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) is about to send a team to Botswana to investigate
the claims by Zimbabwe.
Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani said while it was true
there is a SADC investigation, Botswana is not training militants from
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
He told VOA
the accusations are an attempt by Zimbabwe to divert
attention from President Mugabe's failure to resolve the economic and political
problems plaguing Zimbabwe.
is true that there is an investigation; it is not true that we are training any
Zimbabweans for military purposes," he said.
said Zimbabwe has failed so far to provide evidence to support its claims.
allegations were leveled against us by Mugabe himself, and we invited them to
come and sure us where these training camps are. So far they've not been able
to so. They only produced unsigned statements by two persons claiming that they
had been trained in Botswana. They really can't say when did they get to
Botswana, what documents did they use, if it is true. They have none of those.
As far as we are concerned, the claim is a lie," Skelemani said.
President Ian Khama has been a strong critic of Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe especially since that Zimbabwe's elections earlier this year.
said Mugabe is using the two countries' somewhat rocky relations to divert
attention from Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic problems.
think they are diverting attention from the problems which they have and their
failure to implement the agreement signed on the 15th of September.
They can come any day, any time, and show us where the training camps are, who
trained them because our training camps are known to the Zimbabweans, at least
their leaders in the army. We've got joint commissions and they have been
visiting our training camps," Skelemani said.
said Botswana would support the constitutional amendment before the Zimbabwe
parliament meant to pave the way for a unity government.
the constitutional amendment #19, to the extent that it would implement the
global agreement of the 15th of September, we will obviously support
it in the hope that it will bring peace to Zimbabwe. As we have said before, we
don't think it's the best way of doing things, but at least it's a movement,"
said Botswana would have preferred a run-off election in Zimbabwe. But he said
Botswana supports the SADC position of a unity government.
they failed through elections to produce a president, in accordance with the
decision of SADC, they can actually agree on power sharing. And because it's
their country, we are not going to choose for them how they can best run that
country. Our preference of course would be a run-off. But this powering sharing
agreement is really a rape of democracy," Skelemani said.
said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would welcome a run-off
election as long as President Mugabe's supporters are not allowed to in his
words beat up people. Skelemani said that's why SADC wants such elections to be
said the SADC team to investigate Zimbabwe's claims of MDC training camps in
Botswana was supposed to have arrived in Botswana on the 11th of
December. But he said that meeting never took place because Botswana objected
to team's members.
said he and Swaziland's foreign minister will meet this week in Brussels to
discuss the new date for the SADC team to visit Botswana.