- Botswana government has closed down its border with Zimbabwe in a bid to break ties with the country, as well as denounce President Robert Mugabe's government.
Earlier this week, Botswana became the first African state to public announce that it will not recognise Mr Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe and called on African Union yesterday to exclude Zimbabwe from its meetings, noting that its recent disputed election did not give the government legitimacy.
Botswana Vice President Mompati Merafhe was quoted as saying, "in our considered view, it therefore follows that representatives of current government in Zimbabwe should be excluded from attending South African Development Community and AU meetings."
Botswana Defence Forces have allegedly been deployed with heavy artillery, along the long border between two neighbours.
The government has however not confirmed the move. Its minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Brigadier Dikgakgamatso Seretse, told Botswana Sunday Standard, early this week that, "this is a very sensitive matter, therefore, I can neither confirm nor deny any deployment of soldiers along the Zimbabwe-Botswana border."
It is suspected that this is the first step Botswana is taking along with breaking ties with Zimbabwe, as it reviews its recognition and legitimacy of Zimbabwean government.
Botswana is also said to likely recall its ambassador Pelokgale Seloma from Zimbabwe capital, Harare and expel his Zimbabwean counterpart from Gaborone.
It has emerged that during closed AU session yesterday evening that Mr Merafhe said for all reasons outlined in reports of observer missions of SADC, AU and Pan African Parliament, his country, "does not confer legitimacy on government of President Mugabe."
The vice president reportedly proceeded to call for exclusion of "representatives of current Zimbabwean 'government'" from all future SADC and African meetings, saying their participation "would give unqualified legitimacy to a process, which cannot be considered legitimate."
Botswana also added its voice on South African president Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts, "personalities for mediation process should be acceptable to both parties. It is also Botswana's strong view that mediation process must treat both parties as equals," Mr Merafhe said.
Meanwhile, SA's main labour union, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has also announced yesterday that it would blockade Beitbridge border post, linking Zimbabwe with its giant southern neighbour and main supplier, in protest against President Mugabe's rule.
COSATU stated that the blockade next Saturday would be the beginning of a sustained action against Mr Mugabe, who was last week elected for another five-year term in a presidential run-off vote in which he was sole candidate after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out.
"COSATU is mobilising its members, civil society and Zimbabweans living in South Africa in solidarity with our fellow trade unions and people of Zimbabwe, beginning with a demonstration and border blockade at Beitbridge border post, on Saturday 5 July 2008," labour union said in a statement.
The union also urged unions and workers across the world to refuse to serve Mugabe in an attempt to bring pressure to bear personally on 84-year old Zimbabwean leader who has ruled his country since independence from Britain in 1980.
COSATU last April mobilised South African workers to refuse to unload arms from a Chinese ship that were destined for Mugabe's government. Beijing later recalled the weapons-bearing ship after other maritime governments in southern Africa refused at instigation of COSATU and international community to allow vessel to dock at their ports.
"We are calling on all our unions and those around the world to make sure that they never ever serve Mugabe anywhere, including at airports, restaurants, shops, etc. Further, we call on all workers and citizens of world never to allow Mugabe to set foot in their countries," COSATU said.
SA union spoke as it emerged that Mr Mugabe, top military commander Constantine Chiwenga and Zimbabwe central bank chief Gideon Gono were among senior officials of Harare government to face United Nations targeted sanctions under a United States-drafted sanctions resolution.
African leaders, Security Council and Western nations had urged Zimbabwean leader to call off election, saying widespread political violence and gross human rights abuses in the country made a free and fair vote impossible.
Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of vote saying he could not participate in election after political violence killed at least 86 of his supporters and displaced 200 000 others.
Several African observers, including AU observers, condemned the run-off election as undemocratic.
Mr Tsvangirai yesterday rejected calls by AU to form government of national unity with Mugabe, saying such government would not end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
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