Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi
A 78 words press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the South China Sea has rallied China against Botswana. While the statement is lazily relayed, China has taken issue with the “lack of facts” in its context.
Through the release, “the Government of Botswana calls upon all those countries which laid a territorial claim on the Islands in South China Sea to resolve their disputes through International Bodies set up for that purpose.”
It further suggests that “No country, no matter how big its economy or military should impose its power over others to make claims, which may escalate tensions that could result in conflicts. Thus, the peaceful resolution of the current disputes will augur well for international peace and security.”
In a loaded statement of over 1500 characters, the Chinese Embassy in Botswana noted that: “The Embassy of China in Botswana believes that the arguments of the Press Release on South China Sea by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated 17 February 2016 are completely contrary to the actual facts.”
The statement further states that China's position on South China Sea is clear and consistent over many decades.
“Our position has not changed and will not change. China has ample historic and legal basis for its sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China was the first to discover, name, develop and operate on the Nansha Islands. It is also the first country that exercised and has been exercising sovereign jurisdiction over the islands, which has been long recognized by the international community including the Philippines. China resolutely safeguards national territorial sovereignty, sovereign rights and interests, and remains committed to maintaining regional peace and stability.”
China says with a view to upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea, it has exercised utmost restraint over the past years. “China's approach toward solving the South China Sea issue is to have direct dialogue and negotiation between claimants, which is more effective and sustainable.”
“The South China Sea Islands have been China's territory since ancient times. There is a history of two thousand years since China discovered and named the islands in the South China Sea. As early as the Northern Song Dynasty more than 1000 years ago, the then Chinese government had already established jurisdiction over the Xisha Islands, with regular naval patrols in the area.Successive Chinese governments have exercised continuous jurisdiction over the islands by means of administrative control, military patrol, production and business operations, and maritime disaster relief, among others,” reads a statement from the Chinese Embassy.
“The South China Sea Islands are China's territory. It was not until the 1970s when there were reports about oil under the South China Sea that some countries began to invade and occupy Nansha islands and reefs, undermining China's lawful rights and interests. According to international law, China has the right to defend its sovereignty, rights and interests, and China has the right to prevent the repeat of such illegal moves as encroaching upon China's lawful rights and interests.”
Arbitration Case on South China Sea
At the request of the Republic of the Philippines, International Court of Justice (ICC) has established a Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea. However, the Chinese government says it will not accept nor participate in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.
“First, China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. As a sovereign state and a State Party to the UNCLOS, China is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will.
China has all along been committed to resolving disputes with its neighbors over territory and maritime jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations. China and the Philippines have repeatedly reaffirmed in bilateral documents since the 1990s and the DOC in 2002 that they shall resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations.”
According to the Chinese government, “disregarding that the essence of this arbitration case is territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation and related matters, maliciously evading the declaration on optional exceptions made by China in 2006 under Article 298 of the UNCLOS, and negating the consensus between China and the Philippines on resolving relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations, the Philippines and the Arbitral Tribunal have abused relevant procedures, misrepresented the law and obstinately forced ahead with the arbitration, and as a result, have severely violated the legitimate rights that China enjoys as a State Party to the UNCLOS, completely deviated from the purposes and objectives of the UNCLOS, and eroded the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS.”
What could have angered China?
What could have angered China is Botswana’s suggestion that countries involved in the conflict over the South Sea should resolve the dispute through international bodies.
China has made it clear that to will not participate in the arbitration process. On the other hand Botswana appears to have a soft spot for the Philippines. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also suggested that China could be avoiding international bodies because it relies on its big military and huge economy.
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.