President Ian Khama says Botswana was justified in requesting an audit of Zimbabwe’s disputed July 31st elections, saying his country was playing its role as a Southern African Development Community (SADC) and a ‘good neighbour’ in candidly expressing reservations about the poll.
President Khama made these remarks when he delivered his state of the nation address in the capital, Gaborone.
Khama said Botswana’s view that the Zimbabwe elections should be audited was as a result of reports from various observer missions indicating that the harmonized polls were not free and fair.
Botswana was the first African country to openly question Zimbabwe’s election results after reports from its observer team described the poll as a ‘circus’.
However, following a meeting on the sidelines of a SADC summit in Malawi in August, President Khama and his counterpart, Robert Mugabe, agreed the two countries needed to work together.
Khama, in his state of the nation address, reiterated the need for stronger ties between the two countries, arguing it was only their duty to question Zimbabwe’s electoral process.
He was once quoted as saying the elections were not conducted in a free political environment.
A Zimbabwean resident in Botswana, Caiphus Msipa, said Khama did not want to stir up controversy in his speech but has a duty to inform his nation on pertinent issues.
Meanwhile, President Khama also noted that Zimbabwean illegal immigrants continue to stretch Botswana’s resources.
He said between October last year and May this year, Botswana deported 31,461 illegal immigrants.
Khama said his country has adopted a new system to screen immigrants seeking work and residence permits.
Botswana believes a new point-based system will improve transparency at a time when most applicants complain of being unfairly rejected.