Botswana denies Mugabe, Khama rift

LUSAKA - Botswana has denied that there was bad blood between President Robert Mugabe and his counterpart Ian Khama, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has said.

Venson-Moitoi took a swipe at the media on Tuesday while waiting for Mugabe’s arrival at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport (SSKA), accusing the press of deliberately creating animosity between the two leaders.

Venson-Moitoi’s outbursts followed media reports suggesting that Khama had snubbed Mugabe who jetted into the country for a visit to the Sadc Secretariat.

She said she was disturbed by reports that Mugabe was not accorded an honour befitting a head of State.

“President Mugabe is visiting in his capacity as the Sadc chairman,” she said.

“This is not a government or a State visit and this is why as a Foreign Affairs minister I have to protocol him. That is why we do not have any guard of honour or hoisting of flags on street poles. The same would happen if our president was visiting Zimbabwe.”

The Foreign Affairs minister, not president Khama, welcomed Mugabe at the airport ostensibly because the latter is on a work-related mission not a State visit.

“It is a normal practice throughout the world that as a minister responsible, I protocol his visit and not the president,” Venson-Moitoi said. “I also afford him the necessary protocols linked with visits of other heads of State visiting the country on other official capacities.”

Therefore, President Khama’s absence at the airport should not be viewed as lack of respect for Mugabe, she said.

After Khama’s last visit to the Sadc summit in Harare early this month, the Zimbabwean media reported that Mugabe watched in consternation as Khama sided with South African President Jacob Zuma as the pair partly blamed the nonagenarian’s misrule in Zimbabwe for the crisis regarding illegal migrants in the region.

When asked to provide clarity on the alleged Harare confrontation, Venson-Moitoi dismissed allegations that Khama was annoyed and had to leave the meeting early.

“President Khama did not walk out of the meeting. He got permission and he had made it known that he would leave early,” she said.

“President Khama, in his comments on the issue of xenophobia, was that we cannot condone killings. He said each African country has to work hard at creating employment. He also said we cannot expect South Africa to provide employment for the rest of Africa.”

Mugabe was expected to address a press conference at the Grand Palm Hotel yesterday afternoon.

Mugabe was also scheduled to meet Sadc staff, have private lunch at State House and pay a courtesy call on President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.


Comments (7)

zvamataura ndizvo zvakazoitika here

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dr - 22 May 2015

Botswana, pls respect us and give our president his place as head of SADC. it should have been khama to give the head of Sadc ptotocol not a lesser important foreign minister. this way, Botswana may be perceived to have snubbed Sadc not only zim and its leader.

taurai - 22 May 2015

How funny the Daily News is! Instead of saying our false reports and daily lies about a fall out between the Presidents, you just now say the media. kikikikik Surely even your idiotic fans can not pick that.

reason - 22 May 2015

No one at the top in reality cares for the ordinary people who are migrating looking for a better life they are always there to pull the wool over peoples eyes

Bouganvillia - 22 May 2015

The lunatic fringe at its best. Which Zim media are you referring to? Be man enough and state the obvious that its your paper who fed us with that rubbish. Shame on you.

Ndugu - 22 May 2015

Ndugu and Reason, I don't understand your comments. You seem to be confused, both of you! What "lies" or "rubbish" did the daily news publish in the previous report? Is it not fact that Khama left before the end of the Harare conference? Is it not fact that he criticized Mugabe in that conference? And is it not fact that Khama openly criticizes Mugabe even on many other fronts? What rubbish or lies were published by the daily news or other papers? If you made your own conclusions after reading the facts from daily news it's not the paper to be blamed for your own conclusions. It doesn't matter whether it was officially known that Khama was going to leave early or not, it raises eyebrows for him to leave at the point he did, even if Daily News reported that or not. That is why you have made conclusions after reading the facts reported. It didn't appear to be just another departure.

George - 24 May 2015

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