Zimbabwe's 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe should step aside without delay and allow new leadership of a country whose political and economic implosion since 2000 is dragging down the whole of southern Africa, Botswana President Ian Khama said.
Asked by Reuters if Mugabe, who came to power after independence from Britain in 1980, should accept the reality of his advancing years and retire, 63-year-old Khama responded: "Without doubt. He should have done it years ago."
"They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over," said Khama. He continued, "It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament," Khama said.
Botswana, the world's largest producer of diamonds, shares 800 km (500 miles) of border with Zimbabwe and has felt the full effects of its neighbour's economic collapse under the weight of political violence and hyperinflation since 2000.
Botswana is home only to an estimated 100,000 Zimbabweans -a fraction of the 3 million believed to be in South Africa.
(By Ed Cropley, Reuters)