President Park Geun-hye and President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana shaking hands prior to their summit at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea
When President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama leaves office in three years time, he would have completely severed diplomatic relations between Botswana and North Korea.
Khama has gone on record as he verbally attacked North Korea during his recent state visit in South Korea. While in the South he explained why he did not have any interest in maintaining relations with North Korea.
“As a democracy with our own principles, we just felt that they are not worthy, for us anyway, of having relations with,” Khama told Yonhap News Agency and added that, “Coupled with that was the constant aggressive stance, military stance that they’d been taking, threatening their neighbours like yourselves.”
He further explained that, “that convinced us that, well, it doesn’t look like things are ever going to get better there and therefore we need to make a statement. And for us, we live many miles away, so the best thing we could do is just to sever diplomatic relations with that kind of regime.”
Khama even went on to warn North Korean leadership of its limited time in governance if it was not ready to embrace democracy and start caring for its people.
“Their kind of behaviour and their kind of conduct is totally unacceptable in today’s world…It’s just a matter of time before that system will be overthrown,” Khama was further quoted by Korean media.
Korean times revealed that in fact Khama severed diplomatic ties with North Korea in February last year after United Nations (U.N.) Committee of Inquiry released a report accusing North Korean leader, Pyongyang, of serious human rights abuses, such as holding thousands of people in political prison camps, abducting foreigners and forcing people to starvation.
The Koreans further reveal that Pyongyang responds at any criticism of its human rights situation, calling it a United State led campaign to topple the regime.
But from what Khama told South Korea, shortly after he cut off North Korea, it’s ambassador to South Africa, who also covered Botswana, requested a visit to Botswana.
“We refused to see him and we felt that as we had cut off diplomatic relations, we didn’t want to have anything to do with him,” Khama was quoted as having stated during the interview.
Khama’s visit to South Korea, the first by a Botswana president since 1994, was to help strengthen ties between the two countries. South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy and Botswana is one of the biggest diamond producers in the world.
When in South Korea Khama is said to have spoken well about his government and the many advantages Botswana offers to potential investors. Khama is said to have spoken about the peace and stability of the country as well as its low corruption rates among other credentials.
“Botswana has also been in talks with South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., to buy its T-50 trainer jets. Khama, a lieutenant general and former commander of the Botswana Defense Force, visited the KAI headquarters on Thursday,” the Korean Times revealed.
It further stated that the Botswana Defence Force is expected to make its final decision on the purchase by the end of the year after considering options in two other countries. In fact they said they were actually reporting what Khama indicated to them.
During his talks with the South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, the two are said to have discussed various infrastructure projects South Korean companies could participate in, in Botswana. Khama is said to have been seeking projects worth more than US$2.6 billion to meet power shortage and build infrastructure.
The South Korean President is also said to be a daughter to Korea’s former President just like Khama is the son of Botswana’s first President and the elderly leaders are both not married.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.