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Botswana: Out of Respect for Mugabe's Advanced Age We Won't Say Much About His Attack on Khama

  • VOA Staff

FILE: Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.

The Botswana government says President Robert Mugabe's recent attack on its President Ian Khama over the Africa Union (AU) chairperson elections held early this year, are unfortunate and inaccurate.

In a statement, Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, said out of respect for Mugabe's advanced age, it will not comment further on the matter as "it understands that allowances need to be made (due to age)".

Mugabe (93) unexpectedly laid into Khama during an official visit to South Africa on Tuesday, accusing the Botswana President of failing his Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who stood for the AU elections but lost to Chad's Moussa Faki in January.

"We worked hard, they worked hard, sweated. They sweated, you sweated, we sweated, but one man did not sweat. He sat at home and expected wonders to happen, but that did not happen. Everybody just said you (Venson-Moitoi), we have not seen your president here, he does not attend meetings. What will happen if we placed the organization (AU) in his hands.

“She had worked hard and we were sorry that she lost. But we knew in advance that we were trying the impossible one," Mugabe said during a meeting with his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma.

But Botswana, in a statement released through Venson-Moitoi's ministry, said Mugabe's remarks are unfortunate and inaccurate. "The ministry chooses not to comment any further out of respect for President Mugabe's advanced age and as such, understands that allowances need to be made.”

The Botswana government did not elaborate on allowances.

President Khama has over the past few years urged President Mugabe to step down and be replaced by a young leader, who may be capable of revamping the country’s declining economy.

Mugabe has dismissed such remarks as “wishful thinking”.

The Zimbabwean ruler is expected to contest the next presidential election at the age of 94.

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