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16 Dec 2008 11:14
Botswana’s government on Tuesday denied accusations by Zimbabwe that it was backing a plot to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, saying its neighbour had failed to prove its claims.
A Foreign Ministry statement said Zimbabwe’s submission “contains nothing more than distorted and or concocted evidence, none of which is supported by facts”.
The statement said it had made a submission to the security troika of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on the accusations last week.
Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told the state-run Herald on Monday that authorities had “compelling evidence” that Botswana was supporting a plot by Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to unseat Mugabe’s regime.
“Botswana rejected in the strongest possible terms any suggestion that it provides sanctuary and training for MDC. Zimbabwe has failed to produce any tangible, much less compelling, facts in support of its allegations.”
Chinamasa said Botswana had become a “surrogate” of Western powers and warned that its actions could destabilise the Southern African region.
“What evidence there is establishes that Botswana has rendered itself a surrogate of Western imperial powers, that it is acting contrary to its past role as a Frontline State, and that it has to be a destabilising factor in the region.”
In the SADC region, Botswana has been the most consistently critical of Mugabe’s regime, in stark contrast to the silence of Zimbabwe’s other neighbours.
In November, President Ian Khama called for a rerun of the country’s disputed elections under international supervision, prompting Zimbabwe’s government to accuse him of “extreme provocation”.
The country has also snubbed a summit of regional leaders in protest against Mugabe declaring himself president following a run-off election boycotted by Tsvangirai due to a campaign of violence against his supporters.
Tsvangirai won a first-round vote in March, however failed to win an outright majority.
Botswana’s government has also suggested it would be prepared to allow Tsvangirai to operate there as leader in exile.—AFP
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