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THE Government says it has been shocked by the strange behaviour displayed by the President of Botswana Ian Khama who this week chose to throw the tenets of diplomatic etiquette out of the window and publicly criticised President Mugabe.
In an interview with the Reuters news agency in Gaborone this week, Mr Khama provocatively insinuated that President Mugabe was now too old and should retire.
This is despite the fact that President Mugabe was constitutionally elected and has a running term until 2018.
Responding to Mr Khama’s disparaging remarks, Information, Media and Broadcasting Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe said the sentiments by the Botswana leader were a taboo in African etiquette and diplomatic parlance.
“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 as he has just done with President Mugabe,” he said.
“It is a taboo in African etiquette and diplomacy. Cde Mugabe has at all times cautioned African leaders against attacking each other in public as this would serve to strengthen the hand of Western imperialism at the expense of African unity.
“In the case of President Khama, we need not to point out that he should have known better to keep his views about President Mugabe’s age and administration to himself.”
Dr Mushohwe said anyone who applauded Mr Khama for such untoward and unbecoming behaviour was not only an enemy of Zimbabwe but the entire region.
“All those patting him on the back for a job well done are hypocrites who have sold their souls to the devil and do not mean well neither for Zimbabwe nor this sub-region,” he said.
“They are agents of regime change driving a foreign political agenda against national and regional interests. President Mugabe is a liberation icon and solid statesman who has fought for democracy and total emancipation not only for Zimbabwe but even the African continent as a whole.”
Dr Mushohwe continued: “The African position and that of Sadc is that African leaders are elected to lead by the people they seek to lead through the democratic process of an election.
“Similarly, it follows that the same leaders can only be removed from office through the same process. Need we ask, why is Zimbabwe not allowed to choose its leaders and change them using the same democratic process?
“Why should President Mugabe be removed from office unconstitutionally as President Khama’s sentiments seem to suggest? President Mugabe’s term of office runs until 2018 and anybody suggesting that he should leave office now is an enemy of the people of Zimbabwe who continue to rally behind his popular leadership.
“The race to the 2018 harmonised elections has just begun.”
Dr Mushohwe further stressed that if Mr Khama had issues with President Mugabe, he knows the proper channels to engage his counterpart.
Said Dr Mushohwe: “If he felt so passionately that he needed to express those views, engaging his elder stateman and neighbour bilaterally was the appropriate route to take.
“Opportunities for him to discuss matters in private with President Mugabe are there. The two leaders met recently at the African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Sadc Summit in Mbabane, Swaziland and last Tuesday sat side by side at the inauguration of President Edgar Lungu in Lusaka, Zambia where President Mugabe spoke glowingly about his late father, Sir Seretse Khama.
“Why didn’t he raise his concerns with him then? We sincerely hope that this will be the last time that the Botswana leader opens his mouth to bad-mouth President Mugabe and fellow African leaders in the manner that he did.” Tendai Mugabe, source-chronicle