Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) Gaeimelwe Goitsemang has conceded that Botswana, just like other countries subscribe to an unethical foreign policy.A country’s foreign policy is the way in which a country interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organisations, corporations and citizens.
Under the Lt Gen Ian Khama’s presidency Botswana endured a turbulent season with most of the countries and international organisations turning their backs on the country. The policy then was “hypocritical, self-righteous and illogical,” according to international relation scholars. In fact it has been argued that Botswana has no clear foreign policy.
Following President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s visit to China, a country whose relations with Botswana reached lows last year, after the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was due to visit Botswana, it has been revealed that Botswana has changed its position on dealing with China – one of the world’s economic powerhouse. “Our foreign policy is directed by the chief diplomat who in this case is the president. He is however advised by the relevant ministry and the diplomats,” said Goitsemang.
“Ideally a foreign policy is informed by the national interest like vision 2036. But I should hasten to say that there is no country that practices an ethical foreign policy,” he added. The seemingly confident PS who was appearing before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) this week, had answers at the tip of his tongue. He said the recent visit to China has made them take the Asian country as a major strategic partner.
“Approach has changed, it is determined by the President,” he said when asked on what has made them change their perspective on China. “By then the relationship was characterized by perceptions and mistrust,” he said referring to the era of Khama especially at a time when Dalai Lama was expected in the country. Botswana under the leadership of Masisi has reversed the policy adopted by this predecessor and now subscribes to one China policy. This program sees Taiwan and Tibet as part of China.
The two ‘nations’ have for a long time pleaded for semi-autonomy, something which China cannot grant. International relations pundit Solly Rakgomo has concurred with Goitsemang saying ethical and codified foreign policy is always a suicidal move. “If you are to subscribe to an ethical policy then as a country you will lose big. Each country look at its national interest before it forge a relation with another, most of this are a win-win situation. So if you practice ethical policy then chances are you will suffer economically,” he said.
He says events of the world are not static hence countries should be flexible and unethical on their policies. According to Rakgomo, as things stand, Dalai Lama cannot come to Botswana looking at the relation that has been reformed between China and Botswana.
DIPLOMATS HIRING SYSTEM EXPLAINED
Still at the PAC sitting the diplomats hiring mechanism was revealed. According to the PS, ambassadors are employed on five year contracts while those below them are given 48 months contracts. “Right now the Minister makes the recommendation to Head of State. However, he has the prerogative to reject the person,” Goitsemang said when he was asked as to who hire the diplomats.
The PAC advised that there should be an independent legislative structure hiring the envoys to avoid favoritism. There have been concerns with regards to the hiring of diplomats. Observers argued that those posts were used to reward allies especially based on political affiliation.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.