Botswana Heads of Diplomatic Missions met this week in Gaborone to introspect and asses Botswana’s international relations status. The conference was meant to interrogate challenges faced by the ministry and all the missions and further come up with solutions of how these challenges could be dealt with.
At the conference attended by Heads of Missions, Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi condemned the Diplomats for an outstanding job amidst limited resources and unfavorable circumstances. “Government is aware of the fact that Botswana missions have limited resources yet the envoys continue to do a commendable job despite the challenges,” she said.
She indicated that the meeting would help the representatives carry out their core mandate in their respective countries of coverage. “As Botswana envoys you are encouraged to sell Botswana’s foreign policy in your respective countries of mission,” said Moitoi. The Minister also underscored that this year’s theme “50 years of Botswana’s foreign policy: Celebrate, Reflect and Advance, was befitting as Botswana celebrated 50 years of independence last year.
According to Venson-Moitoi diplomatic missions also have a responsibility to market Botswana and attract foreign investors to come and setup business and employment creation enterprises in Botswana, she noted that with the current water supply challenges and shortage of adequate power locally Botswana foreign missions have a role to play as far as attracting foreign Direct Investment to pump money into the energy sector, solar and other key sectors locally. Dean of Botswana missions abroad Roy Blackbeard noted that the Government needed to resource its foreign missions for them to achieve their mandate, he indicated that the expectations of high commissioners and ambassadors were very diverse and broad adding that government enclave must move quick to address them.
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi commended the envoys for accepting the national assignment to represent Botswana in their respective consulates. He highlighted that there was need to establish synergies to position Botswana well globally hence envoys have to work hard to ensure this materialized. “You should identify opportunities that can secure Botswana’s future. You should be in the forefront to ensure Botswana forges strategic partnerships with neighbors and the rest of the world.”
The heads of Missions also met President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The conference was a consultative forum between the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation and key public and private sector stakeholders, where Botswana’s diplomatic envoys are briefed on major development issues, including government programmes, national projects and policy initiatives. The meeting recommended that Botswana Missions Abroad should work closely with Botswana Investment and Trade Centre as well as other stakeholders to ensure Botswana becomes a well know place for investment and business
Botswana Ambassadors and High Commissioners to foreign countries are among other former top government officials and former politicians just to name but a few. It has been criticized over the years that diplomatic appointments which are done by the President of the country were partisan and only afforded the opportunity to the BDP aligned.
According to Dithapelo Keorapetse Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Botswana’s tendency of awarding diplomatic missions to ruling party elections rejects saturates Botswana‘s diplomatic service with incompetence and lack of good service delivery. He argued that there was a need to codify the country's foreign policy so that the principles underpinning it can be debated and be clear.
“We need a foreign policy that' is informed by our values and national strategic interests and for that we need a framework to infer foreign policy decisions, we cannot have a kneejerk, inconsistent and haphazard foreign policy decisions.” The youthful legislator observed this when debating Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation‘s 2017/28 budget in parliament recently. â€¨â€¨“I'm worried about the unending trend of distributing diplomatic offices as patronage by the ruling party.
Roy Blackboard has been appointed to UK since 1998 to pave way for Ian Khama at Serowe. Tebelelo Seretse was deployed to US after her failure to win primary elections against Venson-Moitoi. Jacob Nkate was sent to be the country's Ambassador to Japan following his loss to Taolo Habano of the BCP during 2009 general elections. Currently Lebonaamang Mokalake and Olebile Gaborone are emissaries in Zambia and Mozambique respectively following their failed bids to return to Parliament,” said Keorapetse in an interview with weekendpost this week.
According to Dithapelo who is also BCP spokes person it cannot be that only ruling party politicians qualify to be diplomats. “Appoint leaders from the opposition if they are capable and indeed there are qualified opposition politicians who can serve Botswana internationally,” he argued.
When further arguing his case Mp Keorapetse cited international instances in which Diplomats are appointed from opposition parties “In South Africa for instance, Tonny Leon of the DA, Dr Mohau Pheko of the PAC, Frank Mdlalose of the IFP and Douglas Gibson of the DA and others of the opposition who are qualified have been appointed to represent South Africa internationally,” he noted. Keorapetse grieves that in Botswana only ruling party politicians are recognizable by the President for deployment internationally.
“That it is wrong and it denies our country competent leadership as we have shrewd and capable people from the opposition who studied political science ,law and international relation disciplines and are better placed to serve our country internationally,” he explained.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.