Mugabe 'would be gone in weeks'

London – President Robert Mugabe would be out of power within two weeks if Zimbabwe's neighbours starved his armed forces of fuel for their vehicles, Botswana's foreign minister said on Saturday.

Phandu Skelemani said the outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe showed more pressure should be put on fellow members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to stop propping up Mugabe’s administration.

He told BBC radio that the SADC’s support for Mugabe had allowed him to drag his feet in discussions over a government of national unity three months after he agreed to share power with the opposition.

"It is the SADC in my view which has enabled Mugabe to be intransigent. More pressure could be brought on these countries," Skelemani said.

He called on the international community to take urgent action.

"The world together with SADC should be able to tell the Zimbabweans, ‘look, this is going too far, we are now saying you are on your own, you can’t rely on us to help you anymore’ and really start refusing to deliver those necessities which keep Mugabe in power.

"One of those is petrol. If you deny him petrol which is used by the armed forces, which is used by the police, I don’t think he’ll last two weeks," he said.

The criticism from Botswana, which unlike Zimbabwe’s other neighbours has been vocal in its condemnation of Mugabe, comes amid fresh international pressure over the country’s collapse.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday the situation had deteriorated to such an extent it now required an international response, adding "enough is enough".

On Friday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was "well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave". – AFP