A Namibian state-owned daily newspaper, the New Era, Friday called on Southern African leaders to call neighbouring Botswana ‘to order ‘ after Botswana officials were quoted saying that the region should shut its borders against Zimbabwe.
In a hard-hitting editorial, New Era, whose views are meant to reflect the thinking of the Namibian government, said that Botswana’s call for complete closure of borders with Zimbabwe was ‘foolhardy’, adding that ‘brazen advocacy for regime change could escalate tension between the two countries.
The Namibia state owned daily said that Botswana’s behaviour amounted to a’ declaration of war through other means against its northern neighbour.’
Botswana, which has toughened its stance against the Harare regime, made headlines after it called for total isolation of the Robert Mugabe-led government.
Botswana foreign minister Pandu Skelemani has said that Botswana is ready to offer opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai a haven to set up ‘democratic resistance movement’.
New Era said that the statement was an ‘apparent code phrase for a military project’, adding that Botswana could express its displeasure with Harare without being ‘arrogant and pompous’.
Skelemani said Mugabe’s government would collapse in a matter of weeks should the region abruptly cut Harare out of all its circuits.
Harare has not responded to Botswana’s statements.
Mind your language
“Open advocacy for regime change raises the bar and could lead to open hostility between the two countries. Botswana should therefore be told to mind its language on Zimbabwe,” the paper said, adding that Botswana was not a ‘regional policeman’.
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF has been battling to unlock a logjam on the 15 September power-sharing deal with main opposition party MDC.
Media reports this week said that both parties had agreed to Constitutional Amendment 19, which would pave way for a government of national unity.
Botswana-Zimbabwe vs Rwanda-DRC
“Botswana should not become to Zimbabwe what Rwanda is to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other SADC members have to put Gaborone on notice about the dangers of its political posturing and growing demagoguery,” New Era said.
The paper bemoaned what it called leadership deficit in the region, saying that Botswana’s power play was being encouraged by ‘political dormancy of key power brokers in the region’.
“It is clear SADC has a leadership deficit. SADC’s strong men were Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Augustinho Neto, Samora Machel, Sam Nujoma and Oliver Tambo.
These are becoming a rare species in a region that once held hope for Africa.”
Botswana, the New Era said, was failing to read the sign on the wall. “Why did Botswana maintain open borders with Ian Smith and white supremacists in South Africa in the 1960s and 70s. Why did they not call for border closures. Is the sin more the colour of Mugabe or what?”
The paper also claimed that Zimbabwe would retaliate ferociously against foreign intervention. “Zimbabwe maybe a tired and wounded tiger but that makes it even more dangerous.”