The Chinese Ambassador to Botswana H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang is confident that Botswana – China relations have not taken a knock. “I have every confidence in the future growth of China-Botswana relations,” he said.
Speaking on China-Botswana relationship, Zheng noted that this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries. He also pinned his observations on today’s China-Botswana relations under the framework of FOCAC, and what China-Botswana relationship could benefit from FOCAC.
Zheng said the friendship between China and Botswana is well established and long lasting.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975, especially after the set-up of FOCAC in 2000, our bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all areas have been improved greatly thanks to the effective implementation of FOCAC initiatives by both sides. For the past 15 years, our two countries have enjoyed frequent high level exchanges. Former Botswana President H.E. Mogae attended the first FOCAC summit in Beijing in 2006, and Botswana has attended all the 5 previous FOCAC conferences,” he observed.
Bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has been pushed forward greatly under the framework of FOCAC, said Zheng. The bilateral trade volume was US$11 million back in 2000, while this number has increase almost 30 times to around US$300 million in 2014, making China one of the largest trading partners of Botswana and the second largest consumer of Botswana’s diamonds.
Zheng said under the guideline of FOCAC, China has been providing selfless assistance to Botswana, out of which 32 projects have been implemented.
On infrastructure area, Zheng said China has helped to renovate 587-kilometer-long railway, build 200-kilometer-long Letlhakeng-Kang road, 717 residential houses and Gaborone Multi-purpose Youth Center, etc. On the education front, China has donated and built 2 primary schools and is willing to donate 2 more in the coming years. China has provided more than 550 scholarships and 1000 short-term training opportunities to support Botswana’s human resources development.
China also established Confucius Institute at University of Botswana (CIUB) in 2009, which so far attracted more than 6000 ordinary Botswana people to learn Chinese language and culture. In health area, China has been continuously sending medical teams to Botswana since 1981.
“To date, China has altogether sent 418 medical experts to Botswana and treated more than 3 million Botswana patients. China also launched 2 “Brightness Action” and helped hundreds of cataract patients to regain their sights. In wildlife protection area, China donated RMB10 million to support Botswana’s wildlife protection cause.”
“I have every confidence in the future growth of China-Botswana relations. Richly endowed in natural resources and committed to its strategy of economic diversity and industrialization, Botswana enjoys huge development potential. As for China, thanks to its rapid economic growth for more than three decades, it boasts comparative advantages in capital, technology, business and personnel. China and Botswana meet each other’s' demand, enjoy respective competitive edges and provide opportunities to each other. This means there is large potential for our cooperation.”
He said the forthcoming Johannesburg summit of FOCAC will provide a historical and precious opportunity for China and African countries including Botswana, to further strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of economic, trade, infrastructure, culture, education, health, among others, thus bringing more tangible benefits to our peoples.
“I sincerely hope that our two countries could make concerted efforts to fully implement the new FOCAC action plans, promote a comprehensive upgrading of our friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation and push China-Botswana relationship to a higher level,” he stressed.
Currently, China is encountered with slowdown in economic growth and some people ask whether Africa can still count on China's development to bolster Africa's development. In Zheng words, “the Chinese economy is shifting from a high-speed growth to a medium-high growth of better quality, or “rebalancing”. This is not only because of the sluggish recovery of the world economy as a whole, but also a result of China's proactive management to promote structural reform, lower the speed of growth and improve the quality of growth.”
The Chinese Ambassador said they define this as the "new normal" of the Chinese economy. The Chinese economy registered a 7% growth in the first half of this year. Such performance is still one of the best among the world's major economies. The long-term prospects of the Chinese economy remain robust and sound, Zheng said.
China and Africa enjoy a profound and long-term friendship and are bound by this community of shared future and interests. In the 1960s and 1970s, the two sides forged profound friendship in the fight for national independence and liberation.
Zheng said nothing should stop the two sides from coming together to pursue common development. Africa is blessed with abundant natural and human resources and enjoys huge market and development potential.
The Agenda 2063 and its first Ten Year Plan adopted at this year's AU Summit have prioritized industrialization and sustainable development, ushering Africa into a new stage of development. As for China, with more than three decades of fast growth, it now has rich experience, mature technology, cost-effective equipment and sufficient capital in the field of industrialization.
“More importantly, China has the strong political will to support Africa in achieving economic independence and self-reliant sustainable development. China and Africa will usher in a new phase of win-win cooperation and common development,” said Zheng.
Statistics show that in 2014, trade between China and Africa exceeded US$220 billion and China's investment stock in Africa surpassed US$30 billion, an increase of 22 and 60 times respectively over the figures in 2000 when FOCAC was just established. Moreover, the share of China-Africa trade in Africa's total foreign trade has increased from 3.82% to 20.5%.
“What is particularly noteworthy is China's commitment to helping Africa break the two development bottlenecks of underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of human resources. The efforts have already made a big difference. By June 2015, over 3,800 kilometers of railways and 4,334 kilometers of roads have been either built or under construction in Africa with Chinese financing. More than 200 schools of various kinds have been established with Chinese assistance or financing. The Chinese government provides Africa with more than 7,000 government scholarships each year and holds over 100 multilateral and bilateral technical and management training programs and senior officials workshops for Africa each year,” said Zheng.
Some people criticize China’s involvement in Africa as similar to the colonial policy of the developed countries in the past. However Zheng said the criticism is absolutely not true.
He said in recent years, with the expansion of economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa, the hat of “New Colonialism” sometimes was added to China's head by some people, which is totally inconsistent with the facts and logic.
Zheng is of the view that the development of China-Africa relations over the years has proved that such assertions are completely nonsense. He said African countries will not accept such a point of view because China-Africa cooperation brings them practical benefits. He said History has proved that China developed equal and friendly relations with African countries and developed economic and trade relations with them in accordance with the international conventions and economic rules on the market.
“We purchase African resources at the international market price and through business negotiations. Due to the huge demand on the Chinese market, the prices of African resources on the international market have increased and African countries have reaped in more benefits. In comparison, how can we find any connection between China and colonialism? Therefore, the label of colonialism, new or old, will never stick on China.”
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.