A social commentator said a majority of Zimbabweans are shocked and disappointment after Botswana President Ian Karma, a vowed critic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe called on western countries to lift sanctions against the embattled leader and his close allies.
Rejoice Mgwenya said Zimbabweans are angry that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) seems to be united in calling for sanctions against President Mugabe and his allies to be lifted ahead of the next general elections.
“To say surprised and shocked is an understatement. There is a feeling of anger because Mr. Khama was known as the single most rational voice in SADC and many people believed that they have been let down by this statement,” he said.
President Khama has been one of Africa’s most outspoken critics of Mr. Mugabe.
In 2008, the Botswana leader urged the African Union not to recognize Mr. Mugabe as president following violence-plagued elections that most observers dismissed as a sham.
President Khama was quoted as saying “we appeal to those who have placed sanctions to remove them in order to give motivation… We also have concerns but let’s remove them to demonstrate good faith and see where we go from there.”
Washington and other western countries imposed sanctions after President Mugabe implemented a policy that involved seizing lands from white commercial farmers in 2000.
The seizures triggered a drop in food production, leading to eventual severe food shortages and hyperinflation in the southern African nation.
President Mugabe has been pushing for an end to the sanctions, describing them as illegal and saying that they are hurting Zimbabwe’s economy.
Commentator Mgwenya said Zimbabweans are disturbed by what they say is the about turn stance taken by President Khama.
“The expectation was that of a continuity from his stance in 2008 that the Mugabe side of government is illegitimate and that the regime is a dictatorship that needs to be removed through a democratic system as soon as possible. And that all the pressure(s) have to be maintained on the regime until such a time as and when the systems of true democracy have been reinstated in Zimbabwe that is what the people of Zimbabwe have been expecting.”