Botswana’s President, Ian Khama, did not mince his words when he told reporters that Mugabe must go.
"Without doubt,” he said. “He should have done it years ago."
"It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament," he explained, in what some would consider to be comments that breach an African diplomatic taboo banning criticism of fellow leaders.
Humbug to African diplomatic taboo! Or to use Charles Dickens’s more flowery turn of phrase:
“If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is aass — a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”
Of all the SADC leaders President Khama is the only who has had his eye on the ball as regards Zimbabwe’s endless tragic tale that sunk from bad to worse and has yet to hit rock bottom. Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has its origin in the country’s repeated failure to hold free, fair and credible elections. For 36 years, Zimbabwe has been stuck with a corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical regime.
President Mugabe rigged the 2013 elections - that was blatantly obvious -; he claimed the elections were free and fair and most of the SADC leaders obligingly endorse the result as free and fair except President Khama. He refused to be bullied and demanded the results be audited.
The audited elections results would have exposed the blatant rigging such as the deliberate posting of opposition supporters’ details into constituent voters roll other than the one individual expected, for example. Nearly one million voters were denied the vote in 2013 because their details were not in the constituent voters roll. President Mugabe’s winning margin was just over a million. Knowing that Zanu PF had rigged the vote was one thing doing something about it was another.
SADC leaders, across the board, had very little appetite to continue playing any role in Zimbabwe’s political crisis and economic mess after the July 2013 rigged elections. The blamed MDC leaders for to get even one democratic reforms, designed to stop the vote rigging, implemented in the five years of the GNU. They had tried their best to get MDC to implement the reforms but Tsvangirai et al completely ignored them. Mugabe had bribed the MDC leaders with the gravy train lifestyles, $4 million Highlands mansion for Tsvangirai, former white owned farm for Ncube, etc. in return for them to do nothing about implementing the reforms.
If MDC had failed to implement even one reform in five years there was no reason they would do so even if the GNU was extended by another year or two!
After President Mugabe blatantly rigged the 2013 national elections he thought he would rig economic recovery too. He failed hence the current worsening economic meltdown dragging Zimbabwe and the whole region deeper and deeper into the abyss.
"It is a big concern," said President Khama. "It is a problem for all of us in the region - and it is a burden. There's no doubt about that."
Last month the Group of Elders comprising Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, Former US President Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Mandela and others urged SADC leaders to reconsider their involved in Zimbabwe precisely because of the serious economic and political consequences of Zimbabwe’s pending economic meltdown to the country and the region.
History will judge President Ian Khama kindly as the only SADC leader who had the courage and foresight to tell Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe in no uncertain terms that he must go. The consequences of a total economic collapse in Zimbabwe are too ghastly to contemplate and yet the collapse is becoming increasingly certain the longer Mugabe remains in power. There is just too much at stake to delay telling Mugabe that he MUST GO NOW – hang diplomatic taboos and niceties!