By Brian Latham
Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change denied as “absolutely ridiculous” a claim made by President Robert Mugabe‘s party that it has established militia bases in neighboring Botswana.
The allegations were made as members of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party and the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai prepare to meet for talks in South Africa tomorrow. The negotiations are the latest bid to break a stalemate that has pitted Mugabe against Tsvangirai since disputed presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29.
Two days ago, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Herald newspaper, which backs Mugabe, quoted senior Zanu-PF official Patrick Chinamasa as saying the MDC plans to destabilize Zimbabwe from bases in Botswana. Chinamasa, who is Zanu-PF’s chief negotiator in talks with the MDC, alleged that unnamed western backers hoped to use Botswana as a base to undermine Zimbabwe.
“It is typical Zanu-PF tactics, but it is they who have the sinister agenda because they’re desperate,” Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman, said in a telephone interview from Harare today. “As before, they have concocted charges and created false stories to justify targeting and victimization of their political competitors.” Zanu-PF has throughout its history “made up stories of political destabilization to undermine democracy,” he said.
Botswana dismissed the claim yesterday and invited the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, a development body comprising 15 African states based in Botswana, to investigate immediately.
Zanu-PF, the MDC and a splinter group of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara will meet with SADC officials in South Africa tomorrow. In a Sept. 15 agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the parties agreed to share power without specifying which of them would control each ministry.
Source: Bloomberg News