President Mugabe has dismissed as mere speculation reports by media in Zimbabwe and Botswana of a tiff between him and Botswana President Lieut-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, saying the two were great friends and colleagues whose relationship has come a long way.
Responding to a question by a journalist in Gaborone yesterday, the Sadc chairperson, who is coincidentally deputised by President Khama, said the war between them was a figment of the media’s imagination.
“We have had good relations all along. I don’t know where this nonsense comes from. We don’t push each other at all. It’s the journalists who push us out,” President Mugabe said as he laughed off the claim that the two were sworn enemies.
|President Mugabe dismisses as mere speculation Zimbabwe and Botswana tiff.|
But President Mugabe said there was no such incident. In fact, he said, President Khama had told him before the meeting that he would need to be excused for another engagement.
“He told me that Mr President let’s finish our business I want to leave at 2pm.”
Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, who also attended the Press conference, nodded in agreement over what transpired during the summit.
President Mugabe said his Botswana counterpart used to visit Zimbabwe to meet with him and army generals to exchange notes even before he became president.
In fact, the two held a private lunch yesterday at State House when President Mugabe paid a courtesy call.
“We had a very sumptuous lunch and I want to thank President Ian Khama for the hospitality. The government of Botswana right from President Khama down to his ministers put everything in place.’’
President Mugabe said he had not been in Botswana on a State visit or official trip but had come to tour Sadc Headquarters, but President Khama had extended his hospitality in terms of accommodation and other provisions.
“The state doesn’t have to do all that . . . But the state has extended its facilities, Minister (of Foreign Affairs Dr Pelonomi Venson Moitoi), accommodation. In fact, just now I made a courtesy call with my good friend and counterpart who was kind enough to provide a sumptuous lunch. It’s African hospitality. There are no quarrels.”
However, on the issue of the 2013 harmonised elections, President Mugabe said Botswana’s assertion that the elections were not fair was wrong. Sadc, AU and Zimbabwe’s internal electoral systems concurred that they were free and fair.
“Even if they said they were not free and fair must you hate them for that? So shall we say with the San people here who do not vote, so your elections are not free and fair? They don’t want to vote. They are interested in killing animals and enjoying their lives.”
Addressing Sadc staff earlier, President Mugabe commended Botswana for hosting the regional bloc’s headquarters and for all the support rendered.
He said Sadc was resolute in its quest to ensure increased growth and development in the region.
President Mugabe planted a Rhus Lancea tree at the headquarters as a living gift to Sadc which also symbolised economic growth and prosperity.
Before his departure for home, the Sadc chair held a closed door meeting with former Botswana president Sir Ketumire Masire.
President Mugabe described his visit as successful and fruitful. It is a requirement that the Sadc chairman must visit the headquarters during his term of office. He assumed the Sadc chairmanship last August.
President Mugabe was accompanied on his tour by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who is also the chairman of the regional body’s Council of Ministers.
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