Botswana not afraid to go it alone

GABORONE - Alone among African countries, Botswana has rejected the results of the Zimbabwean elections.

It’s a brave stand, bound to frustrate their neighbours, but not unexpected.

Over the last few years, Botswana and its president have shown that they can think and act for themselves.

As African countries and institutions fell over themselves to whitewash the results of the Zimbabwean elections, there was a lone dissenter among all the official voices.

In what’s becoming a regular occurrence, Botswana found itself out of step with its regional and continental allies — and unafraid to upset the applecart.

“There is no doubt that what has been revealed so far by our observers cannot be considered as an acceptable standard for free and fair elections in Sadc,” said Botswana’s ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

“The community, Sadc, should never create the undesirable precedent of permitting exceptions to its own rules.”

The statement continued by calling for an independent audit of the Zimbabwe results, and for the inconsistencies in the report of Sadc’s own election observers to be discussed at the Sadc summit later this month.

As statements go, this one was undeniably brave and hugely embarrassing for South Africa and Sadc, who both have pronounced themselves satisfied with the poll.

Both also play hugely significant roles in landlocked Botswana’s economy.

But the statement was not inconsistent.

Over the last few years, Botswana has made something of a habit of doing its own thing in the foreign policy arena, shamelessly flouting the unwritten rule of African diplomacy that priorities consensus and a united front above all else.

A few examples: Despite his international arrest warrant, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been welcomed in many African capitals, even in countries that have signed the Rome Statute (meaning they are obligated under international law to arrest him). But he won’t be touching down in Gaborone any time soon.

Botswana has repeatedly and vehemently asserted that they would happily detain Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court, defying pressure from the African Union to ignore the arrest warrant.

“We have not surrendered the sovereignty of this country to the AU,” foreign minister Phandu Skelemani said pointedly in 2010.

President Ian Khama was also instrumental in getting Malawi to deny Al-Bashir entry to the planned AU summit in Lilongwe last year — a diplomatic headache that caused the whole thing to be moved to Addis Ababa.

The Foreign minister caused another diplomatic incident, this time with Kenya, when he applied the same principle in March to the then-president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, who is already on trial at the ICC.

“If he refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You can’t establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you. If he refuses, he won’t set foot here.”

Skelemani later apologised for these comments, but only because they seemed to pre-judge Kenyatta’s actions; there’s no doubt that the Kenyan president won’t be welcome in Botswana if he backs out of the trial.

Botswana was also one of the first countries to break off relations with Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in 2011, as it became apparent he was murdering protestors in cold blood.

At the same time, a completely befuddled African Union was trying to get the international community to give Brother Leader a break.

Incidentally, the headlines about Botswana’s action on Libya mirrored those reporting its response to the Zimbabwean election.

“Botswana breaks ranks over Gaddafi”, reported AFP in 2011; “Botswana breaks ranks with other African countries, says Zimbabwe poll wasn’t free and fair”, reports AP in 2013.

Botswana, it seems, is not afraid to go it alone if and when it feels the circumstances demand.

This bold foreign policy seems to be largely the brainchild of Botswana’s President Ian Khama, firstborn son of Sir Seretse Khama, the country’s liberation president.

In his five years in office, Khama has overseen Botswana’s consolidation of its position as one of Africa’s best-governed countries, with impressive economic and development indicators (his record is much less impressive when it comes to treatment of Botswana’s San population).

Not that he’s particularly consistent in applying his foreign policy ideals.

Critics in Botswana have taken him to task for failing to take any kind of action against other African leaders implicated in human rights violations, such as Swaziland’s King Mswati III or the late Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika.

He is also criticised for failing to produce an outline of what Botswana’s foreign policy principles actually are.

“Botswana has no clear foreign policy,” said Bame Piet, a journalist with Mmegi/The Reporter, Botswana’s main newspaper, speaking to the Daily Maverick. “He’s very reluctant to come up with a clear position. It seems to be how he feels at that given point … Nobody knows what is going on in his head.”

Whatever’s going on in his head it’s not making him popular with his fellow African leaders.

By refusing to run with the pack, Ian Khama cuts a lonely figure on the African diplomatic stage.

Given the scarcity of other dissenting voices, let’s hope he keeps it up.

Comments (55)

Voices of descent are needed everywhere in this world and Khama has presented that; this will bring to order most leaders who are directionless and bootlessly running in the wrong direction. Minority does not mean we should not do this, so keep it up Botswana, for this continent is full of leaders who support all the 'rights' and 'wrongs,' all this, at the expense of 'good governance.'

nemburungwe - 13 August 2013

Voices of descent are needed everywhere in this world and Khama has presented that; this will bring to order most leaders who are directionless and bootlessly running in the wrong direction. Minority does not mean we should not do this, so keep it up Botswana, for this continent is full of leaders who support all the 'rights' and 'wrongs,' all this, at the expense of 'good governance.'

nemburungwe - 13 August 2013

Botswana is giving a great example in order to reject the notion that we have something called 'free and fair elections by African standards.' Why should Africans allow such a stupid claim which suggests that 'African standards' are okay for 'these savages' if they kill two hundred people instead of one million. We are not sub-humans who should be given a different set of electoral rules and justice. We cannot allow ourselves to be treated as 'savages' who don't have to comply with simple and reasonable ideas of justice. If we accept to treat ourselves as sub-human, the rest of the world will treat us as rubbish. When are we going to demand the highest quality of everything as a people? Our governments allow the importation of Chinese zhing zhongs, cheap products which should be in the garbage dump because we treat ourselves as sub-standard human beings who are doomed to eat even rotten food.

Chenjerai Hove - 13 August 2013

Just wait and see you fool Ian Khama. The West you are trying to please is the very one that is going to undo you once it decides it no longer has any further use of you. You politically uneducated fool.

yuful - 13 August 2013

Evil prevails when good men do nothing, Botswana stand your ground if you believe that by the standards you all signed up to in SADC dont conform to what is acceptable for free and fair elections. Others like battle weary Zuma have chosen the easier way but history will judge. If Mwanawasa was still around i'm sure he would have been another beacon. African countries will never take their place in the top table of nations and will always be viewed like the emaciated maid of a poor distant cousin.

Lt Gen - 13 August 2013

Ian Khama is a 'amadhodha sibili' to use Mugabe's description of a 'real man'. Khama has been consistent. He is a breath of fresh air. After Mugabe's rant at Heroes Acre, will 'amadhodha sibili' found in the Con-court. I doubt it. Their 'things'are shaking in their trousers. There can never be justice as long as the purveyors dine with the devil.

Mavara Azarevhu - 13 August 2013

Botswana and its leader have support from Zimbabweans whose victory was stolen by those they did not vote for .Truly we wish Mwanawasa was alive for he could have added his voice to promote democracy in SADC.

chimwango - 13 August 2013

Haiwavo zvipi! what is Bostwana and who is Ian Khama? Nyika ine vanhu simbe uye vanotambura. As Zimbabwe we do not need Botswana at all let Khama be friends with Tsvangson and the MDC T.

Ndaneta Mupeta - 13 August 2013

lets not take sides but analyse facts as they are. The Botswana observers made a conclusion based on what they saw, so what is wrong with that. "..The statement continued by calling for an independent audit of the Zimbabwe results, and for the inconsistencies in the report of Sadc's own election observers to be discussed at the Sadc summit later this month.." Ndaneta mupeta you are a fool. You didnt even read the article you are commenting about. Fact is fact and that is that. Some of you are just parroting what Dictator Mugabe says " Pamberi nekuwhina ma elections" without even reading into the mechanisms the old man uses ti "win" those elections. Wakaneta brain chaidzo like your name.

NEUTRAL OBSERVER - 13 August 2013

Botswana is setting a good example for those who think being "African for Africans" means to stand by those who support bad governance in place of government for the people by the people. To hell with confused and shameless praise singers who will die without even buying their children a pair of school shoes-we are tired of people who want to take us back into stone age!

Regalia - 13 August 2013

if zanu pf won he election why are they not celebrating. they are doubting their winning. i support Ian Khama for auditing the elections.

chamunorwa - 13 August 2013

Khama might seem right because he is saying things that you wants to hear. Do you think Khama is right? We can all think what we want, but the truth of the matter is we need to go forward as a country. Let's stop fighting let's learn to know when we are defeated. Tsvangirai was defeated the moment he accepted the race. Tsvangirai needs to be politically mature if he is to ever defeat President Mugabe. He was stupid to accept GAP. In 2008 he had a case worth listening to but now he is just worsting our time. The winner is known and in this case its MUGABE . You should have realised that people had given you a mandate to redeem them from hunger. In 2008 people voted for you with their stomachs not that they loved you. If you had delivered u might have won.

tatiana - 13 August 2013

Ian Khama, you have done us proud-please keep it up You are a rare breed amongst African Leaders who always support bad governance and choose to see no evil when some of them butcher their own people in the name of soveregnity. We are sick & tired of the Zumas of this world who rush to pronounce Zimbabwe Elections as free and fair despite his own Facilitation Team's advice that Mugabe stole the elections in broad daylight. My late mother was a Zulu/Shangaan and I don't think she would have voted for a party of yesteryear which has dismally failed to embrace change and leadership renewal. Her own folks would also not vote for a party that orchestrated genocide on fellow citizens thus the rigging has gone too far

Chief Philip Charumbira - 13 August 2013

If you stand for the truth you will always stand alone!!! Well done Khama

Virus Detected - 13 August 2013

Well done Khama. Zimbabwe loves you and will cherish all this great work

Deliwe - 13 August 2013

I believe all other SADC members have reached their wits end with Zimbabwean issues. They no longer want anything to do with her. It's good riddance to them. We are on our own now. It's not that they support Mugabe but kungoti zvavabva.

Morrison Makuvatsine. - 13 August 2013

President Ian Khama, firstborn son of Sir Seretse Khama, the country's liberation president. What liberation for a former protectorate ? Liar reporter

Dr Nero - 13 August 2013

Botswana keep it up even if it means pulling out SADC please do so without fear, i know you wont go it alone some who want justice like you will follow suit.

zama - 13 August 2013

I like Botswana's stance on Zimbabwe.Khmama is a real man.Pliz Khama continue rejecting such rubbish,mugabe has never won an election ever since.Keep it up Botswana.

josefa chinotimba - 14 August 2013

Zuma, SADC & AU wanted to close the Zimbabwe issue fast and hoped that the elections were going to provide the answer. No it did not! Our problem in Zimbabwe is the way ZANU pf wants us to conduct elections. They want to win at all cost. In a free and fair poll ZPF is dead and buried, so that is the reason they force undemocratic elections to go ahead. What do they mean NO GO area for the opposition? What are they hiding? They have a weak support base which is easily shaken! Forcing rural communities to vote for them. Shame. The vote was stolen, period. Keep it up Bots

chipolopolo - 14 August 2013

NO NO, the Ian khama is not even liked by his own people, his problem is he wants to consider himself a white-man and yet he is coloured, he has an identity problem and neither do africans need a homosexual, two thirds of the population are very weak from the virus, and little Botswana can not even withstand a war where we use syjamboks instead of guns. So what ever the desert monkey says, just ignore.

reason - 14 August 2013

Only an evilman can say Khama is wrong. Gaddafi, Mugabe, Albashir, Kenyatta, etc are past humanism. They are embodiments of evil.

Go Khama Go - 14 August 2013

Not forgetting that it is still a British Protectorate, it has to be in sync with the mother voice.

mukoma fads - 14 August 2013

Well done Botswana - the only voice of reason amongst Bob ass suckers. History will judge you handsomely. The down trodden people of Zim who have lived under the heavy york of Zanu are praying for proseperity of Pres. Ian Khama and his govt. When African history of the 21st century is written, a whole chapter shall be dedicted to Ian Khama. We appeal to Pres. Khama to offer land military training in his country as this is the only way of depositing the ditactor called Bob.

sgwebosentambo - 14 August 2013

Khama you a Strong African Leader you doesn't fear threat from old aged leaders. What is wrong is wrong let it be said, poor Zuma

Kikilio - 14 August 2013

well done bots

RAT - 14 August 2013

a fool looks wise when his mouth is closed these are facts Khama uyindoda emadodeni what Msholozi did yibugwala.....

the dreamer - 14 August 2013

Problem with the world in general is self serving. Everyone looks after their own interests first. Any country that claims to be righteous is the most un-righteous of them all. We had illegal invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, the quashing of demonstrations by minorities all over Europe. And now the situation in Egypt, which is bordering on genocide but goes un-condemned by the USA and co. Apparently if they label it a coup, it triggers sanctions - bloody hell, that was the point of the clause wasnt' it? to dissuade coups, hence when Gen Assis made e decision to overthrow Morsi, he knew e consequences. He called the American's bluff and they've fallen for it, he knows he has them by the balls due to Egypts' role in the middle East. Well, that is a decision that American's are making, and Egyptians are making, so be it with Zimbabwe. So long no-one goes crying with a begging bowl to the other, its fair game in this world, and let know one pretend other-wise, let alone those spying on their citizens emails and phone calls.

thegreatequaliser - 14 August 2013

Is it coincidence that the country that is most threatened by a strong Zimbwabean diamond industry is the one most afraid of a sovereign Zim govt? Of course, if i was Ian Khama, a president on a one dimensional economy reliant on one industry, it makes sense to be-friend and promote the interests of Tsvangirai. I would advise him that after you become president Morgan, you can let the Oppenheimers back into Marange then we can continue looting the Zim diamonds and selling them as Botswana diamonds like we were doing in the 90's. That way, de Beers retains control of world diamond trade, and Botswana can buy another 10 years to diversify their economy before diamonds run-out. Self-interest, full stop. Bob save us.

pachokwadi - 14 August 2013

Can khama give an honest public comment on the EGYPTIAN coup so that we can tell that BOTSWANA is brave and can go it alone.ASADE KUTIJAIRIRA.

munya - 14 August 2013

foolish Botswana

Bhola - 14 August 2013

Sory khama its not your fault. It is because you dont know, and you are not the president of botswana. We know where the president of that country is. Khama has nothing to loose because Botswana is a province of britain. But the truth is all those who are commenting in support of this fool are not Zimbabweans, we know who they are. The fact is their hopes of returning this country to be rhodesia again have been dealt a thorough blow by Bob thats why there is so much praise to khama. Its a way of trying to mislead the world into thinking that Mugabe is not liked by his people. All the fools and idiots who wrote in support of khama are in pain of defeat. A defeat which shall stand until they are dead. Many thanks to Pachokwadi, Munya, the greatqualiser. mukoma fads and reason munoona chokwadi sezvachiri.

Takeiteasy Marcaves - 14 August 2013

This idiot called Khama is clowning for nothing......if free or not free so what? People are so learned in Zimbabwe to understand the effects of any noise people make. U think for Zimbabweans as if we do not have our brains? To Hell. I am not partisan, but I don't think he is more qualified to protect us than we can ourselves - ngochani yomunhu.

ndire ndire - 14 August 2013

yuful true you are a fool. Ndaneta mupera, you join Yuful as a fool. Go to Botswana and see how they are building their country, zvekunyebera siyana nazvo go and see yourself. Khama is just a principled guy and will not want himself sullied like those other fools who think if an axe was not used then all was ok. How can you have an election where you ask people to queue behind their sabhukus and you have a sabhuku with voter's registration slips and you say the elections were fair. free yes but not fair although to others it was never free because they still had fear, go to Murehwa south and talk to them in confidence they will tell they voted so because they feared for their lives but look at that area, their roads like potata fileds yet the Mp has been there for many terms doing nothing for them except instil fear in them. I don't excue this fear because if they had voted without fear and a proper winner came oit they had nothing to fear. But lining up villagers, bussing people from one area to another and assiting athird of voters to vote and chasing away other voters cannot be considered fair. So Khama hats off to you you are a man among men, an oasis in this desert called Africa, a civilised in a dark continent which is happy with a torch light rather than the whole light.

maita - 14 August 2013

Interesting to see on Nikuv's website that they have assisted the government of Botswana as well.... hmmmmm

Bhola - 14 August 2013

I believe MDC T won the election but the rest is history. All those that are saying zanu won are using their emotion not ration, I can write a book on reasons why this "erection" was a sham, among them frog-marching Zimbabweans and ambushed (rushed) to this erection by zanu and its machinery (mudede, zec, judiciary, chinamasa, Nikuv, etc)? Why was the constitution violated left right and centre? Why numerous sections of the Electoral Act, Broadcasting Act, Presidential Powers among others were violated and abused? Why would zec be so worried about “violated” rights of only 26,00 special votes to the extent of seeking the concourt to allow a second chance for this vote when the same zec had refused millions a fair chance citing "compliance" to the same law? Now that over 300,00 were denided chance to vote why is zec not portioning the concourt to allow these to vote? Is this not the "All animals are equal but other are more equal than others"? This is not about murungu kana kuti America/Europe. I am a professional and a budding entrepreneur and the so called indiginisation is also a farce. Vana vevhu ngatidzidzeyi zvanhasi kuburikidza nezvanezuro kuitira ramangwana (33 years wasted). We learn the present in light of the past for the purpose of the future. Where do you place zanu in this???? For once think about it my fellow Zimbabwean.

simon - 14 August 2013

Well done Batswana. We need more counrties who have clease eyes not the likesof South Africa and many other countries who have twigs in their eyes and full of lies on Zimbabwe reports.

Ngwarai - 14 August 2013

Well done Botswana you are the only voice of reason in Africa

The patriot - 14 August 2013

viva Ian Khama and Batswana,remember that its not Ian Khama only who stands for the truth,even his predecessors did the same thing.If all countries in Africa had people like Ian Khama we would be having a better a Africa.Also we must remember that Botswana played a very big role on liberating Zimbabwe.They also died for Zimbabweans,when they were bombed for habouring our freedom fighters,who were at Selebi-Pikwe Camps and many more in Botswana at that time.If Botswana had known that it was a thief chasing another thief,there were not going to bother themselves,risking the lives of their citizens for Zimbabweans.Khama you have got all rights to critizise all wrongs which taking place in Zimbabwe,and it affects your country too.Omona tota,tswela pele,uyindoda emadodeni,insizwa ziphelele.

mindlos - 14 August 2013

Kohatisi kushandisa pula here muZim? I am seeing vamwe vachizotadza kuenda kumisangano ye sadc kana kushopping kuBots!

jingly - 14 August 2013

With regards to personality i regard Ian Khama as the real statesman.He should maintain his mainstay when it comes to not being 'gudzamudungwe" like what all the other African leaders are mentioning a free and fair election where it is really a sham to describe these elections results like this. Ian Khama keep up your standard. One does not need to call the results what they are not inorder to please the rest of the idiots.

voice of the people - 15 August 2013


mthae - 15 August 2013

Great Botswana!!

Desdichado Desdichado - 15 August 2013

Literacy rate, Botswana 82%, Zimbabwe 97%. This tells a story.

Muza Sibanda - 15 August 2013

Khama is an AAAAAAARSE

kikikiki - 15 August 2013

Problem is anything that does not agree with ZanuPF is either hogwash and or is not thought as original. Imi vanhu vatema mungafunga kuti Bob or ZPF is wrong, munenge maudzwa nani? Inga President vanozvitaura wani kuti mapesana nezvandinoda nokuti maudzwa, my foot! And you agree with that dont you? Chisayanai nazvo, pane zvinhu zviviri zvisingachinje muZimbabwe, ku winner kwemaWarriors nekuruza kwe ZPF.

Mira Newko - 15 August 2013

KHAMA was not elected into office,check this out,what does he know of elections,Botswana inechii chinoshamisira,the majority are poor,they are filled with products from SA,the diamonds they have dont benefit the poor,Anyway......since KHAMA has british blood running in his veins,he simply is singing the British and Western song of Imperialism,unfortunately for him and his MDC friends,Zimbabwe is not for Sale And Gushungo is fighting FOR OUR FUTURE JUST LIKE MBUYA NEHANDA,KAGUVI and others.......KHARMA,OBAMA,TSVANGIRAI,ZUMA,TUTU and all the WESTERN SPONSORED PAPERS are nothing but foolish sellouts,puppetts,who belong to a circus

crystal clear - 16 August 2013

takeiteasy - it is true, the Zimbabweans know the truth. You can write whatever in whatever news but you will be surprised when Zimbabweans go into the ballot box. So lies in conjunction with ballot paper will not work - possibly try military intervention. But is once attempted by Rhodes Smith and Petter Walls and it failed. What they only achieved was to create racial hetrade that will live forever

dungas - 16 August 2013

takeiteasy - it is true, the Zimbabweans know the truth. You can write whatever in whatever news but you will be surprised when Zimbabweans go into the ballot box. So lies in conjunction with ballot paper will not work - possibly try military intervention. But is once attempted by Rhodes Smith and Petter Walls and it failed. What they only achieved was to create racial hetrade that will live forever

dungas - 16 August 2013

botswana = Bushmen on trees saying we are now africans

makombe makombe - 16 August 2013

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