President Robert Mugabe has opted to attend a Zanu PF women’s league meeting on Friday instead of Botswana’s 50th anniversary at the invitation of Ian Khama, that country’s president.
The ruling party women’s league meeting is occurring on the same day as the Botswana anniversary.
Khama recently invited Mugabe to join other high level dignitaries in commemorating the country’s birth 50 years ago.
George Charamba, the presidential spokesperson, confirmed that Mugabe had preferred to be at the party meeting instead of Botswana in an interview with the local Zimbabwe Independent.
He however dismissed speculation that Mugabe had snubbed Khama after the Botswana leader described Mugabe as too old and a burden to southern Africa in an interview with Reuters.
“Yes, the president will not go to Botswana, but the reason of not attending is not what you think (Khama’s remarks). He will not attend because it has clashed with the party’s Women’s League conference,” he said. “
He added: “We are not saying that Botswana’s celebrations are not important, but it has clashed with another important conference which is a build-up to the (Zanu PF) December’s annual people’s conference. We will obviously send a representative to Botswana.”
He insisted that relations between the two countries were still amicable despite Khama’s call on Mugabe to quit power.
“Our relations with a State are not determined by an individual or one person’s remarks, therefore we have no problem with Botswana. Remember, a state is made up of people and institutions,” he said.
Khama has fought an almost lone battle in openly criticising Mugabe’s rule within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Most heads of State in the region have tended to adopt quiet diplomacy even though reports indicate that they are getting increasingly impatient with the Zimbabwean leader. Nehanda Radio