Time for Mugabe to go: Khama

GABORONE - Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe should step aside without delay and allow new leadership of a country whose political and economic implosion since 2000 is dragging down the whole of southern Africa, Botswana President Ian Khama said.

Despite his reputation as one of Africa’s most outspoken figures, Khama’s remarks are certain to raise hackles in Harare, where factions of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party are locked in a bitter struggle to succeed the only leader Zimbabwe has known.

Asked by Reuters if Mugabe, who came to power after independence from Britain in 1980, should accept the reality of his advancing years and retire, 63-year-old Khama responded:

“Without doubt. He should have done it years ago.”

“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over,” Khama, the UK-born son of Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama, and his British wife, Ruth, continued.

“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,” Khama said, in comments that breach an African diplomatic taboo banning criticism of fellow leaders.

Botswana, the world’s largest producer of diamonds, shares 800 km of border with Zimbabwe and has felt the full effects of its neighbour’s economic collapse under the weight of political violence and hyperinflation since 2000.

Although the economy stabilised in 2009 with the scrapping of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar, a slump in commodity prices over the last two years has triggered a cash crunch that has fed through into unprecedented public anger at Mugabe.

No clear potential successor has emerged from the destabilising factional fight to take over after Mugabe

Khama said the instability was damaging Botswana’s efforts to wean itself off mining — which accounts for 20 percent of GDP and nearly 60 percent of exports — by promoting itself as a regional logistics and services hub.

The unrest was also forcing more and more Zimbabweans to leave the country, he added.

Botswana is home only to an estimated 100 000 Zimbabweans — a fraction of the three million believed to be in South Africa — although this is still enough to strain public services in a nation of 2,3 million people.

Botswana’s jails hold “significant numbers” of Zimbabweans, Khama said.

“It is a big concern,” the British-trained former general said.

“It is a problem for all of us in the region — and it is a burden. There’s no doubt about that.”

In the latest controversy over his health, Mugabe left a summit of southern African leaders at the end of August without warning and went to Dubai, fuelling rumours he had been taken gravely ill or may even have died.

Khama did not discuss any specifics of Mugabe’s condition at the meeting but said his counterpart looked tired.

“We’re talking about a 92-year-old man and there’s just so much you can do at that age to try and keep up.”

Mugabe frequently refers to himself as “fit as a fiddle” and hints at a desire to stay in power until he is 100. After his Dubai trip, which he attributed to a family matter, Mugabe joked about online reports of his imminent demise.

“Yes, I was dead. It’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” he told reporters at Harare airport.

Khama reiterated his government’s concerns about the credibility of the elections Mugabe has won in recent years, but said irrespective of the results no leader should cling on to power for that long.

“My opinion has always been that 10 years leading any kind of organisation — not just a country or a government, any organisation — is pretty much the maximum,” he said.

During its 50 years since independence, Botswana has emerged as a politically and economically stable nation that has used its mineral wealth prudently — a rarity on a continent where such treasures have been routinely squandered, stolen or the cause of civil war.

Khama’s second five-year term in office ends in 2018 when he will hand over to vice-president Mokgweetsi Masisi in a carefully scripted political succession that makes instability almost impossible.

After 2018, Khama, a keen nature-lover whose wood-panelled office is adorned with pictures of the African savannah, said he wanted to dedicate his time to tourism and conservation.

Thanks to a focus on safari tourism and a zero-tolerance approach to poaching, Botswana boasts more than 150 000 elephants, a third of Africa’s entire population of the animals.

But Khama said there was no room for complacency in the fight against the illegal ivory trade given the rampant poaching in other countries on the continent.

“One day if their animals become extinct and we still have viable populations, all the guns will be focused on us,” he said.
 

Comments (21)

There goes a very good honest leader, Seretse Khama Ian Khama is the only African leader who has brains all these other presidents are just boot lickers like zanu pf members. Good stuff Khama that's why your country is doing well.

misty - 22 September 2016

We salute you President Ian Khama of Botswana. You are the one and only SADC leader honest and brave enough to recognize the huge mistakes our President is making and the horrendous suffering going on here. Mugabe blames our poor economic state on sanctions - this is another one of his horrendous lies simply because the sanctions he talks about are directed at a handful of individuals and none of the country's trade is confined or restricted by any neighbouring States, the AU, Asia, Middle East - so why is he crying and trying to make himself out to be the victim. Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian Prime Minister had full International sanctions applied and yet after 16 years the country still had a healthy bank balance and growing economy with unemployment at less than 32%. Somehow I cannot see any of the other SADC leaders possessing either the intelligence or courage to follow President Ian Khama's stand on the Zimbabwe issue.

Mbewa - 22 September 2016

Well said Ian Khama,to other African leaders it is a taboo to say the truth about one of their own.Shame on you the likes of SA,Zambia,Mozambique,Malawi for your deafening silence about your neighbour who is destroying his own country single handedly.

Janana wa Bikaz - 22 September 2016

Well said Ian Khama,to other African leaders it is a taboo to say the truth about one of their own.Shame on you the likes of SA,Zambia,Mozambique,Malawi for your deafening silence about your neighbour who is destroying his own country single handedly.

Janana wa Bikaz - 22 September 2016

@mbewa you are so so very right. And yes, Ian Khama deserves applaud for his stand. Unfortunately we need the backing not just of Botswana but the whole of SADC. Without it, we aren't going anywhere.

Rhodie - 22 September 2016

Well said President Seretse Ian Seretse Khama for saying the truth as it is. If the other SADC leaders would follow the same suit. And this speech would carry more weight if Mugabe and the Zimbabwean situation becomes a crisis agenda for SADC. Zimbabwe's sneeze has affected the whole region for nearly two decades. We are tired of the usual political rhetoric - SADC should tell Mugabe the truth and help to smother the fire in Zimbabwe when it is still small.

Daniel5 - 22 September 2016

nonsense and idiocy from ian khama,this chap should dedicate his free time which he uses to critidize our iconic president on finding a wife and fathering a kid and nature conservation,zimbabwe is a democracy unlike botswana which is not even a kingdom but a chieftainship,ian khama just spend your time on top gear and shut up!!!!!!

truth - 22 September 2016

But why at that age is Ian still not married? Is he a Roman Catholic father or a gay? Also very good Mr Khama for being the only African leader with testis. I wish Mwanawasa was still there to assist you push dictator out. I know if you are alone its a mountain to climb and he will start shouting at you referring to your British mother. But dont care about that nonsense

Captain D - 22 September 2016

Mugabe once promised that as soon as the land redistribution programme is completed, he would gladly call it a day. Perhaps the intention was to mess it up so that he could justify his continued hold on to power indefinitely. There is no practical or symbolic reason why we should be ruled by a frail 92 year old who has been at the helm for almost forty years and has managed to destroy the political social and economic fabric of the country under the guise of combating colonialism. He has the audacity to hide behind the sanctions card to the extent of allocating scarce resources to conduct research designed to prove his point and attribute this as the source of the hardships people are enduring come the 2018 rigged elections. Mugabe has only displayed that he is a master of dissent and rhetoric but woefully incompetent in terms of nation building and adding value to the capacity and welfare of the citizens. Thank you President Khama for being a lone voice of reason and courage amongst a cast of incompetent and hopeless leaders who sit on the worlds largest endowment of natural resources and yet they preside over untold poverty and human suffering. It is high time the African charge and narrative is led by visionary and enterprising leaders who appreciate that the poverty and strife afflicting their counties is self induced and an indictment of their leadership capabilities. Therefore, the primary challenge for any leader in public office is to tackle and reverse this trend. .

Jaikolu Maison - 22 September 2016

Posts with zanu pf verbal diarrhea like tuth's should just be ignored. However, setting the record straight - Botswana with its "chieftainship" form of government is about to celebrate 50 years of her independence with significant step having made in achieving peace, a growing stable economy and tangible results in empowering and the quality of life of the Batswana. Their presidential terms are restricted to a maximum of two terms per the incumbent. Botswana has had 4 presidents since 1980. Zimbabwe with our so called "democracy - what is it really?" has had the same president / prime minister for the past 36 years. Talk of new ideas. Botswana in 1967 when she got her independence was underdeveloped - today she has made world wide commendable progress. Zimbabwe at 1980 her dollar was equivalent to the British pound and 1.47 to the US dollar! 36 years later the Zimbabwe dollar is worthless, we have no currency, the economy is in the graveyard, Mugabe is still in power, Zimbabweans are dispersed in the diaspora as political and economic refugees, the ones who have stayed behind are brutalised, unemployed, poor, hungry with no water, intermittent electricity supply while the zanu pf fat cats get fatter and fatter, looting, grabbing more land, once vibrant factories are closed, government with a salary bill of 97% of government revenue, Zanu PF is imploding, selling or holding the Zimbabwean flag is now a crime! Ad truth talks of democracy - wake up! The writing is on the wall - the zanu pf titanic is sinking!!!!!!!!!!

Daniel5 - 22 September 2016

Thank you president Khama but then the person who shares the same title as you in Zimbabwe is a self imposed Life president We used to be so proud of him that he is educated He is not Just a teaching diploma He adds law and economics to his achievements but I doubt considering the economy of Zimbawe and ruthless attack on non violent protestors -one wonders about his qualifications Leaving cabinet ministers to steal millions from Zimbabweans and just chides like naught children He needs to go well said Khama Wether married or whatever Botswana economy is booming He is tired of Zimbabweans in Botswana RG you must be ashamed

Naphiri Chisayi - 22 September 2016

Tinotengesa mishonga yechibhoyi inobva kuMalawi isina ma side effects inorapa zvirwere zvakasiyana siyana kusanganisira ma fibroids, shuga, asima, kuwedzera nguva pabonde, matambudziko ose angasangana nana baba, kukudza nhengo yana baba mumazuva gumi nezvimwe zvakawanda. fonai pa 0737286007/ 0714066125. tinodhilivhara pachena muharare

MURIMA - 22 September 2016

The satanic idiot calling itself truth has completely nothing to criticize Khama for except to attack his person. Whereas his master, Mugabe has no shame, no heart, no patriotism and above all, no education. We salute this Khama gentleman who is bold to stand for the truth. History is recording his efforts to bring development and reduce poverty among Africans. The other African leaders are a huge disgrace whose silence amounts to complicity.

Lunkneed Jije - 23 September 2016

The satanic idiot calling itself truth has completely nothing to criticize Khama for except to attack his person. Whereas his master, Mugabe has no shame, no heart, no patriotism and above all, no education. We salute this Khama gentleman who is bold to stand for the truth. History is recording his efforts to bring development and reduce poverty among Africans. The other African leaders are a huge disgrace whose silence amounts to complicity.

Lunkneed Jije - 23 September 2016

Mugabe has left his corrupt ministers to brutalise abd loot from the people. Tell you what: A bad leader can be identified by how he always fights good leaders, how his people rebel against him, how his people suffer and how natural disasters and war seem to stoke the nation with the people yoked to sin. Without doubt Mugabe is a tyrrant. And when the poor cry out to God just maybe, maybe, he will listen and crush the head of the serpent.

Rambo - 23 September 2016

Good leadership. Nhamo inesu

matsotsi - 23 September 2016

@Murima - You are advertising on the wrong platform. We want only people's thought and ideas relating to a story. It's not the first time and it annoying.

matohwe - 23 September 2016

Chimirai muone matukirwo achaitwa mwana wa Tseretse , ' Heee ngochani hee chii chiii , But zvinongoperera ipapo

Amai Mandigona - 23 September 2016

Rather than asking why this sincere man does not have a wife, you should do a dissertation of what wives of African leaders have done to their nations. The conclusion would most likely be that, none should have a wife, especially Zim. We are better off without a first (or fist) lady. Thank you.

UnBanked - 23 September 2016

Mugabe has failed the country through bad polices and thuggery. Zanu pf simply wants to bury all the dirty with mugabe. As the new generations take over in the coming decades there will be more Ian khamas and magufulis type of leaders on the continent. The situation in the country is so bad that even mugabe himself cannot be within its borders for 30days. Mugabe has done all the bad, the next leader has no option but to bring good polices.

X-MAN IV - 23 September 2016

Khama is a great leader. Mugabe is rotten. Mugabe has destroyed his legacy. What has he bequeathed us? Maybe corrupt ministers and a brutal police force. Education, healthcare, the economy, security of property and human rights have been destroyed by Mugabe. He is too arrogant or proud to see what he has done to us. An embarrassment to every black person on earth. My wish is that you and your family leave. It"s cruel but you have been cruel. Every day I pray for the angel of death to visit you.

Phebion - 23 September 2016

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