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‘Botswana prevented civil war in Zimbabwe’

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.

29 Responses to ‘Botswana prevented civil war in Zimbabwe’

  1. Gandanga September 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    For a country that has never fought a war or even participate in a peace keeping exercise, it was suicidual for that homosexual president who leads a country which has more goats than ppe to dream of fighting Zimbabwe. Its known that bots was banking on usa intervening but usa having engaged Zimbabwe in DCR knew better.

    • Chabwino September 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      @Gandanga.Brotherman,Zim cannot stand for an hour against the miltary might of the USA.So do not pretend otherwise.There was never a military encounter between zim and the USA.Stop misleading people.

    • Mukanya September 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      @ Gandanga – Obviously the Zim army would have been defeated beause most would have defected. No hungry soldier would have stood against a well fed and supplied army.

  2. Mustafa Mheta September 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Madness to even say that Botswana could have intervened militarily in Zimbabwe, we were going to raise Gaborone to the ground before they even took off. Its wishfull thinking on the part of these so called academics who conducted this research to even suggest “Botswana was going to intervene” intervene where?

  3. Madzibaba September 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Botswana preventing WAR? These attention seeking academics are just but a problem. How can Botswana prevent a war in Zimbabwe?

  4. Chioko September 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    1. Mozambique and not Botswana has the longest border with Zimbabwe
    2. Besides posturing Botswana alone can never tackle the Zimbabwe Army unless maybe they had support of the US army bases in the desert.
    3. Tsvangirayi isnt as stupid as to go into a civil war with a government that has the support of the army, police and airforce.
    This is just a piece of paper writeen by academics who have no clue about the politics of Zimbabwe and depend on hearsay for research. Of course the intentions would have been good as in 2008 ZANUPF and grown a head of snakes that was sawllowing innocent people whole! But Botswana wouldnt have stood for a day without the support of southern Africa

    • michiel derks September 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      “But Botswana woudn’t have stood for a day without the support of southern Africa”. Please, allow me to correcr you: without the support of Pretoria, South Africa (Republic of South Africa).Tsavangirayi is a puppet of the ‘Chamber of Commerce” who want to deny the accomplishments of Mugabe. The government in Gabarone shouldn,t be involved with local politics in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and any interference of a foreign power should be answered with show of force.

  5. asekuru September 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Botswana is just an idle extension of SA lets not overestimate their capacity Zim might need to set them free from colonial thinking .Zimbabwe is run in a completely different way from Bots and in no way can they prescribe conditions for Zim.forget it

  6. michiel derks September 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Madzibaba, you are quite rigtht! imagine, a Botswana without an army of any significance to interfere with domestic affairs in a sovereign state? A would be suicide for Botswana, sorry to all the academiccs in Gabarone but please don’t under estimate a Mugabe and his ZANU clique!

  7. Gonawapotera September 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Zviroto Zviroto ngazviperere muma University. This oe in particular

  8. Tatenda September 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    This is stupid research by an insignificant university in Botswana. It’s a vulgar lie and an attempt at self importance on their part. Zimbabweans are not a belligerent and riotous people. That is the only reason why there was no war in the country. It’s laughable that these so-called academics in Botswana would dare to think otherwise.

  9. Khulumani September 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    People should not imagine that is war is a simple matter. I dread it when people say they would go to war for the simple reason, to put Tsvangirai in power. I say people don’t even know Tsvangirai well enough to risk lives for him or his party – Tsvangirai may turn out to be just as corrupt and deal the same shady deals with foreign powers and corporations. Look at the way he’s managed his sexual affairs doling out money to shut-up that woman, money which its very unlikely he worked to earn and whose source is yet unknown. Guys Tsvangirai is just a different face, a different party, that may turn out to be just as arrogant, corrupt and all. While some may want the incumbent and his group out of power I think that going to war to effect that change would be a terrible loss of life people would live to regret.

  10. Fokolo September 30, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    These academics are day dreamers. They know they are talking nonsense. They obviously were well funded and had to produce a report that pleases their pay master. What a load of nonsense.

  11. Fokolo September 30, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Just been reading a WikiLeaks doc on the situation at that time – Botswana approached the USA gvt to station troops in Pikwe to protect the radio sation that the Zim gvt was opposed to. In the communique, the Bots gvt stated that in the event of an attack by Zim to take out the station, Bots would not be able to hold on for long against its more powerful and experienced neighbour. Now why these so called academics decide to twist the facts boggles the mind. Fokolo mani

  12. BroBen September 30, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Why do people always think of war whenever there is a dispute? Zimbos wont go that far against each other. Educated pple solve disputes amicably.

  13. Gazebo viewer September 30, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    If zimbabweans’ stayaway frm war was infuenced by their education then the rest of europe is not as much educated as ZIMBABWEANS!

  14. Fungai September 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Shame on you ian khama you are a dame idiot.

  15. dr September 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    God stopped war in zimbabwe’s 2008 as wellll as 2013!

  16. Tsistsi October 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Botswana helped zimbabweans alot,no matter what Botswana is number one,whether president is gay or not,who cares.he is not hungry like u stupid zimbabweans,all over like flies,suffering and dying.silly. Botswana shelterd zimbos when they do crime there.U r second from nigerians.sisi.Ilove Botwsana president.I am a shona dad is from zim ,my mum tswana.who cares zimbabweans,who cares.Botswana is a rich country with dignity.

  17. Leonovo October 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    This is utter balderdesh rubbish fit for only for the rubbish bin. To think that so called two academics and a whole university is involved in producing this trash is startling.
    Botswana engaging Zimbabwe in a combat war!!!!….Please find something else to joke with you two mischievous baffoons.
    Do you know that a whole army from the country of goats cannot even be a match for just a battalion of Zim’s youth brigade from the national service camps?

  18. Simba Nyoni October 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Nonsense……..written as an academic argument and shall stay an under researched bent on notoriety. What an intelligently put feable by these mediocre scholars. Perhaps 5th graders in Zim.

  19. Simba Nyoni October 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Nonsense……..written as an academic argument and shall stay an under researched article bent on notoriety. What an intelligently put feable by these mediocre scholars. Perhaps 5th graders in Zim.

  20. Senator October 3, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    It is well written piece its only those morons who thinks ” the academics are day dreaming ” , The biggest USA military base is in Botswana so no doubt Zim would have been defeated in an hour, sometimes we just lie about our own military capabilities , but lets face the tide our army is very anachronistic

    • Taizivei October 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      It’s obvious senator you are very drunk ..go through the ZNA history post independence ..maybe you will sober up !!! In fact ask the US Army about ZNA …

  21. Izikiel October 3, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    It’s time that President Mugabe treat all Zimbabweans, zanupf and non zanupf as Zimbabweans. Stop the narrow mindedness. Look at the situation more realistically, but fear God.

  22. sanctions October 4, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    They wished for war in Zim, but God has his ways.

  23. eddy October 4, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Senator you the most unrefined idot that i have come across, even someone with an iq of a small goat will know that Botswana will not stand war against Zim yo reasoning is neusating you have a brain size of a retarded donkey

  24. chaminuka October 6, 2013 at 8:08 am #


  25. paurosi October 6, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    itz nt a matter of n hour or usa c mightyness neither is t a matter of zanu pf o mugabe varume uno ndomusha wechipikirwa chedu. today iraq z divided coz of bloody usa we will nva b divided. kadafi wz better thn thr current situation . think n rethink again.

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