Ethiopia’s new immigration minister has rejected South Africa’s decision to deport Botswana president Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
Chomotu Mohamed said Botswana would have been justified to ban Mr Khama from entering the country.
“Banning this senior African leader, who has millions of loyal people in Botswana, is unacceptable and inhumane, and demeaning,” he said.
Botswana had urged South Africa to protect Mr Khama during his proposed trip to Ethiopia.
Significantly, Botswana is one of two countries – along with Mauritius – who insist on strong reciprocity when it comes to migration policies.
The ban was considered politically significant and came amid speculation that Mr Khama could potentially seek to run for the African Union presidency in 2020.
He said he was obliged to go on his proposed tour of the eastern African countries to “serve humanity”.
Chomotu Mohamed stressed that the Botswana president would never be allowed entry into a European country, but defended the legitimacy of the country’s ban.
“We can’t just do on the basis of just one person being on an African cause … if we let that happen then that is one-sided and not binding on us,” he told reporters.
“Let him come, but let him not speak in areas where he is going to come under trouble.”
Khama, the first son of Botswana’s late president Dr Seretse Khama, is currently vice-president, and is also a member of Parliament.
South Africa has long been blamed for eroding the validity of passports of African leaders as evidence of their allegiance.