Botswana yesterday stopped short of calling President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF officials blatant liars after the party’s State-controlled media accused Gaborone of bankrolling MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s election campaign.
On Tuesday, State media — considered the official mouthpiece of Mugabe and Zanu PF — ran a front page story alleging Botswana sponsored Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.
The papers further said Botswana’s “negative” stance towards the outcome of the national polls was not surprising. But the Botswana government spokesperson Jeff Ramsey yesterday told Southern Eye by telephone from Gaborone that his
country was not in the business of sponsoring foreign parties.
“Botswana has not funded the MDC-T or any party,” Ramsey said. “It is not the practice of Botswana to fund political parties from outside the country.”
Zanu PF is accused of sponsoring former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, who last month launched his own political outfit, but the party denies any links with the former ANC youth president, although its top officials, among them Saviour Kasukuwere, have hosted him more than once in Harare.
There has been no love lost between Botswana President Ian Khama and Mugabe since Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe in the March 2008 presidential polls, before an equally controversial run-off the MDC-T leader boycotted citing violence against his supporters. Accusations by Zanu PF could strain diplomatic ties with the western neighbours that on Monday called for an independent audit of the elections saying the poll did not meet acceptable standards for free and fair polls.
Botswana also called for the inclusion of Zimbabwe on the agenda of the next Sadc summit saying the regional body should not set a precedent by endorsing Zimbabwe’s polls as credible, when they fell far short of regional standards
Gaborone conceded that the election was free from violence and intimidation, but said there were a number of irregularities that discredited the outcome of the polls like delays in providing the voters’ roll.
Responding to the calls, the State media on Wednesday quoted an unnamed government official saying they had evidence to show that Botswana actually funded the MDC-T.
“Botswana committed three heinous crimes. It pushed in lots of campaign material in support of the MDC-T. We allowed the material to pass through our borders because it was an excellent opportunity to build a case against the Botswana government.
“This amounts to interfering in the internal politics of Zimbabwe and this is against Sadc principles,” the unnamed government source said.
The source added that Botswana’s observer mission to the national elections was funded by the European Union member states. Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo was quoted in the same story describing the calls by Botswana as “thoroughly stupid”.
“This statement must be taken for what it is — it is thoroughly stupid. It is talking about a so-called independent audit which has no basis on any law nationally, regionally or internationally.
“This is not a financial issue to be audited. The national elections were conducted in terms of Zimbabwean law and were declared free and fair by all international observers Sadc and the AU included.
“He (Khama) is the only bad apple and that raises questions about his integrity. Who is paying him? It also raises questions about allegations doing the rounds both in Botswana and Zimbabwe that he was a participant and sponsored the losers. He should show some shame. He is shameless,” Moyo told the State media.