Botswana opposition peeved by Khama snubbing of AU/ UN gatherings

> Mpho Tebele

Gaborone- The opposition lawmakers in Botswana have this week called on President Ian Khama to honour African Union and United Nation (UN) meetings.

This came after the President’s decision to send his Deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi and others to attend the 70th UN General Assembly in New York.

The UN General Assembly provided an opportunity for the UN member states to exchange ideas on the challenges and possible solutions to a wide array of developmental challenges at national and international levels. In a statement, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary caucus accused Khama of snubbing AU and UN meetings.

“Botswana, as a developing country, could benefit from the experiences of more developed economies,” said UDC Parliamentary Caucus spokesperson Phenyo Butale.

Butale said it is only through global discussions and cooperation that individual countries can overcome the interconnected crises such as extreme poverty, economic instability, social inequality, and environmental degradation.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate that our President does not see it that way. Judging from his actions, he has a different view about the world order. This is detrimental to Botswana’s standing in the world,” he warned.

Butale said since Botswana was not represented at the level of Head of State, Vice President Masisi spoke after all Heads of State and Government had spoken and when most had left.

“It is common cause that the Vice President will be restricted and will not occupy the same platforms as Heads of State and Government. This is the heavy price the nation continues to pay for having a President who does not value and appreciate international dialogue and the role it plays in shaping a common vision for an increasingly globalizing world,” said Butale.

“The UDC MPs would like to take this opportunity to appeal to President Khama to reconsider his position and join other leaders at this historic event to ensure that the vision and aspirations of our people form part of the world journey into the future.

“We strongly feel that as a nation we cannot continue on this path of isolating ourselves and missing opportunities to opine on international issues of concern to our country. Khama should go there and present Botswana’s views on the current global challenges,” said Butale.

The UDC said that having signed up to the Millennium Development Goals, Botswana committed itself to fighting extreme poverty, promoting universal primary education, promoting gender equality, and forging enduring partnerships and the former President Festus Mogae, attended the UN General Assembly to pledge Botswana’s commitments.

“This is highly commendable on his part. Regrettably, President Khama, as usual, will be missing in action when global leaders meet to share experiences, lessons and views on how to tackle global challenges,” he said.

The UDC has noted that it has become a trend for the President to absent himself at crucial international forums. President Khama has never attended AU and UN meetings since he took office in 2008 and he was recently quoted as saying:

“You are given seven to 10 minutes to speak and then you come back home, and you say is it worth flying all that way and spending all that money for seven minutes? . . . Is it going to make a difference?”

October 2015
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