via ‘Botswana prevented civil war in Zimbabwe’ The Standard September 29, 2013
BOTSWANA’S active involvement in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe after the disputed elections of 2008, helped avert a potential civil war in the country, a recent research has revealed.
The research, entitled Botswana and Pivotal Deterrence in the Zimbabwe 2008 Political Crisis, sought to explain the crucial role that Botswana played in the light of the Zimbabwe political crisis after the 2008 election.
It argued that Botswana was able to apply “pivotal deterrence” in Zimbabwe, between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that won the March 2008 presidential election, and Zanu PF that claimed to have won the June 2008 run-off election where President Robert Mugabe was uncontested.
The research by three Botswana-based academics, Obonye Jonas, David Mandiyanike and Zibani Maundeni, says Zimbabwe nearly slid into a civil war following the disputed elections which returned Mugabe to power.
This was after his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC withdrew from the presidential race citing escalating State-sponsored violence directed against his supporters.
According to the recently published report, Zanu PF began “arming to the teeth, seemingly in preparation for war”.
The party allegedly attempted to import military hardware from China. Tsvangirai on the other hand was being hosted by President Ian Khama of Botswana amid accusations that the neighbouring country was training MDC-T militias in preparation for a regime change.
But the report says actions by Botswana defused a potential violent confrontation between Zanu PF and the MDC-T, and influenced the two parties to cooperate in forming a Government of National Unity (GNU).
It says as the Zimbabwean crisis was escalating following the disputed elections, there was no doubt that relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe went frosty.
“Botswana entered the war talk, and was decidedly on the MDC side,” reads the report.
“Botswana began efforts of posturing — a move that was interpreted by pundits as preparatory work to attack Zimbabwe.”
The study says Botswana allegedly took a decision to deploy a Botswana Defence Force contingent along the border, armed with heavy artillery. Justice and Security minister, Brigadier Dikgakgamatso Seretse was reportedly quoted as saying: “This is a very sensitive matter; therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny any deployment of soldiers along the Zimbabwe-Botswana border.”
But the study argues that the minister’s equivocations pointed to the direction that indeed plans were afoot in Botswana to participate militarily if civil war broke out in Zimbabwe.
It said well-placed sources, as confirmed by cables leaked by WikiLeaks, revealed that in anticipation for war against Zimbabwe, Botswana approached the United States for arms of war and related military assistance.
“This shows that while Botswana had always been friendly to Zanu PF, it was ready to switch sides in defence of democracy and on the side of the MDC,” reads the report. “The fact that it was seeking material support from the US suggests that it was readying itself for a military confrontation against the Zanu PF government in Zimbabwe.”
The report says the US through its mission in Botswana, turned Gaborone down on its request, advising that provision of military assets could harm America’s interests in the region and possibly trigger an arms race.
But it says Botswana’s manoeuvres were having an effect on the Zanu PF-led government amid reports of Mugabe warning “neighbours” to “think twice” before going to war with Harare. Then Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa also accused Botswana of what he called “extreme provocation”.
“The overall impression as gleaned from Botswana’s actions clearly point to the ineluctable conclusion that should Zimbabwe had descended into a civil war in 2008, Gaborone would have intervened,” the researchers noted.
They said it was in Botswana’s national interest to have intervened and playing the role of a “pivot” in the likely civil war in Zimbabwe.
In this regard, the report argues, it was important to note that the concomitant feature of every civil war was an exodus of refugees fleeing their own countries and seeking sanctuary in neighbouring countries.
“No doubt Botswana, a country that shares the longest border line with Zimbabwe, would have become the destination of choice for most refugee seekers from Zimbabwe,” it says. “The problem of refugee influx into Botswana would have created great problems for Botswana in its wake.”
The report says Botswana clearly believed that her stand would find favour with both Britain and the US. Regionally, Zambia under the late President Levy Mwanawasa, had also adopted a stance against Zanu PF’s aggressive tendencies.
“Thus, Botswana was not isolated in the position she took. The likelihood of being supported by the US and the British therefore might have provided some sort of impetus for Botswana to Pivot,” the reports read.
It says for Botswana to be regarded as a pivot between MDC-T and Zanu PF, it had to show that it had leverage over the two parties.
The country had been sending strong messages to Zanu PF that any violent takeover of power would not be tolerated and was most likely to invite it into the conflict.
Even after the power-sharing agreement was brokered, Khama continued to express misgivings about such an arrangement.
This is totally disgusting to hear this. Why should Botswana intervene in Zimbabwean matters. This is rubbish.
Fungai you don’t understand ploitics. Rubbish is what is in your head. It’s true that Botswana deployed troops and it even allocated land for the establishment of refugee camps
A pity that Botswana didn’t intervene in 2008.You will only remove this dictator and his minions through a violent uprising! Zanu are an evil, murderous party who have always intimidated and butchered there way into power, their love of the ‘filthy lucre’ is their driving force and no niceties, such as elections, will ever see them removed from power………aluta continua!
Charlie Cohrain, you better get used to it. Zanu PF is loved by all black people of Zimbabwe and it will rule Zimbabwe for the next 200 years – well after you and your offspring die of waiting for a puppet government that will take care of your selfish interests. There will never be another Ian Smith government nor a puppet government in Zimbabwe again. Zanu PF is a saint as compared to The Rhodesia Front, Zanu PF a Saint, got that?
That is a big lie. Why do u speak in behalf of other apple. If its u who like ZANU its not all of us. ZANU pf is an evil party who only think about themselves not the suffering Zim povo. Not all of us like ZANU of. That ZANU pf will rule for the coming 200 years is yo wishful thinking. Don’t lie to pliz your party.
I am glad you said ‘black’ but you didn’t day black at heart. ZANU (PF) and it’s suspporters are evil and have black hearts.
What fantacy! Zimbabwe military would have run over Botswana with only a platoon or two of its highly trained special forces. To think that Botswana would have withstood a full scale war with Zimbabwe even if the Americans and British had armed Botswana for two or three days is blatant display of ignorance on the part of the writers. The truth is that the Americans and British had stationed a few batallions in Botswana, ready to invade Zimbabwe and that Botswana’s provocative attack on Zimbabwe would have given the imperialists a chance to attack. The British and Americans were told by their top generals that they would be humiliated if they ventured into Zimbabwe, which is why there never was a war between Botswana and Zimbabwe. Even today, with sizeable arsennal of American and British weaponry, Botswana can be overrun by Zimbabwe in a matter of hours.
Its your wishful thinking to pliz the master
Naison, you dont speak for the majority of Zimbabweans
Shut up you war mongering fools ! to fight a war in another country you have to have a decent infrastucture to supply your army neither country has this so any troops sent in to either country would quickly run out of supplies and easily be cut off and defeated , there can never be a war betwween zim and botswana the majority of zimbabweans would never support it and zimbabwean soldiers are famous for just running away like chickens
Botswana is just nothing in terms of millitary force. If they had started this war we were going to show them what we are made of. We were going to slaughter them like chickens after that we would invade and take their beloved country in a matter of seconds. So l warn them that they should never attempt any silly things for their own safety!!!
Its easier said than done. If you read the article clearly it said they wanted military help from USA and UK. Don’t forget they have more military muscle than Zim. So how would u overrun these military giants. Kana maguta sadza musataurisa nyengai vakadzi venyu muvate.
The teport has some truth in it. Zim intelligennts knew. So its a testimony that morgan is indeed a puppert. No wondor he is not liked by african heads. Raila odinga is far much progressive than morgan. About mdc followers i have nothing much to day. But i think they just blindly follow him. Whether that makes them puperts or not is left for common sense to ponder about