BY SILAS NKALA
BOTSWANA opposition leader, Dumelang Saleshando has challenged churches and civic society organisations in the neighbouring country to add their voice against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Saleshando said the region should pile pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to immediately stop terrorising citizens. He also said Mnangagwa should also be pressured to release opposition leaders and journalists held in detention on allegation of plotting an insurgency.
The opposition leader made the call in Parliament on Tuesday urging the unions, clergy, student formations and other pro-democracy non-governmental organisation (NGOs) to come up with ways to pile pressure on the Zanu PF regime.
“To our civic society and NGOs, we say silence and inaction is not the answer, today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it could be Botswana and would it be proper for others to shrug their shoulders and say it is a Botswana problem and has nothing to do with us?” Saleshando was quoted as saying by the Botswana Voice newspaper.
Saleshando also urged the Botswana Central Committee to be seized with the crisis and have a stern word against Zanu PF.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has since assumption of office in 2018, displayed his support for Mnangagwa’s government, who took over from the late former President Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 coup.
“Our conscience and principles do not permit us, the opposition in Botswana to remain silent in circumstances where the Zimbabwe State has embarked on a brutal and savage crackdown of its long suffering citizens,” Saleshando said.
“Instead of granting audience and finding solutions to the plight of a people bearing the brunt of a collapsed economy, lack of liquidity, rampant unemployment, unbridled corruption and shortage of goods and services including basic foods and medicines in this terrible time of COVID-19, the default reaction of Zanu PF has been to turn to state sponsored violence against its own citizens.”
He said Zanu PF repression, misrule and poor governance was a stain on the neighbouring country through an influx of refugees.
“It is against this background that we say enough is enough. We know Zanu PF well enough to predict that the ongoing crackdown is being done with an eye on the 2023 general elections whose run up will see an escalation in state repression, with Botswana and other neighbours again having to shoulder the burden,” Saleshando added.
He said there was need for a Sadc extraordinary summit to address the crisis in Zimbabwe.