New York – Namibian President Hage Geingob has refused to criticise President Robert Mugabe, saying that his country would not interfere in Zimbabwe's national affairs, a report said on Wednesday.
According to The Namibian, Geingob said that unhappy Zimbabwean students who were based in the United States "should go back home and fight for their country".
Geingob said this while speaking at the Columbia University in the US.
Answering a question by a Zimbabwean student who wanted to know Namibia's position on Zimbabwe's situation, the Namibian leader said that he would not publicly rebuke Mugabe, and that it was up to Zimbabweans to fight for change in their own country.
He said that his country respected other countries' independence.
"…It's for Zimbabweans to decide, not us. The rest is yours. You must go back and fight. We can't fight for you… we regard it as a Zimbabwean problem," Geingob was quoted as saying.
Good leadership qualities
Geingob's remarks came just less than a week after Botswana’s leader Ian Khama urged Mugabe to step aside.
Khama said Zimbabwe needed new leadership to deal with a political and economic implosion that has dragged down the whole of southern Africa since 2000.
He said that the long-time ruler would not be able to solve the southern African country’s woes.
"It is obvious that at his [Mugabe's] age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament.
"They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over," Khama was quoted as saying at the time.
Following the remarks by Khama, one of President Mugabe’s aides, Information Minister Chris Mushowe, said Khama’s sentiments were "taboo in African etiquette and diplomatic parlance".
"The government of Zimbabwe is shocked by this uncharacteristic behaviour of president Khama, who until last month was at the helm of SADC, and should know better that you don’t use the media platform to criticise fellow SADC leaders as he has just done with President Mugabe.
"It is a taboo in African etiquette and diplomacy," Mushowe was quoted as saying.