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SADC Urged to Tackle Zimbabwe Crisis

FILE: A father covers the face of his daughter with a wet towel after she was teargassed by armed Zimbabwean police in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Neighbouring Botswana says there has been no formal approach from Zimbabwe regarding the unfolding crisis, which has seen several violent demonstrations amid calls for President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Analysts in Botswana, however, say the situation cannot be ignored.

Botswana's minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Ms. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, says they have not yet been informed about the current situation in Zimbabwe.

Venson-Moitoi says she was in Zimbabwe last Thursday, as part of her campaign for the Africa Union chairperson post, and nothing came up in meetings with state officials.

"I was in Zimbabwe on Thursday but there was nothing to report."

However, analysts expect Botswana to engage Zimbabwe through various platforms, which include the two countries' jointcommission on defense and security or the Southern African Development Commission (SADC).

Botswana President Ian Khama is the SADC chair and there is a growing feeling that the unfolding Zimbabwe crisis must be tackled at regional level.

Political analyst, Mr. Ndulamo Morima says Zimbabwe’s crisis is causing instability in the SADC region and therefore SADC cannot ignore the unfolding crisis.

"It is long overdue for SADC to intervene. The effects which come as a result of the situation in Zimbabwe, affects Zimbabweans themselves as well as present economic and immigration challenges for the region itself."

But University of Botswana political commentator, Mr Leornad Sesa, says SADC might find it hard to deal with the often dismissivePresident Robert Mugabe.

"It will be difficult to talk to him. Rather he blames them for not listening to African leaders and feels there are listening to the West who he argues, have imposed sanctions."

There are growing fears of an influx of immigrants into Botswana if the situation flares. Zimbabwe was rocked by demonstrations, some which turned violent, in the past week, over the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

Botswana is already feeling the pinch of some of Mr. Mugabe's policies with a recent import ban on some goods significantly slowing downeconomic activity particularly in the second city of Francistown where Zimbabweans flock for groceries and other business.