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BDP response to ANCYL

Dear Editor

Following the recent media statement attributed to the President of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Youth Executive Committee would like to express its deepest regret to the utterance made by Mr. Julius Malema, particularly in reference to the leadership of our president, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

We have taken time to review the statement and have consulted internally on this matter.
We respect the right of the ANC Youth to choose to associate with any formation in Botswana, but wish to advise that such association should not be motivated by a blatant disrespect of a leader of a sovereign Republic.

As we regard the ANC Youth League as a fraternal movement with enviable track record and respect for democracy, human rights and rule of law, we have sought an opportunity to discuss this matter of immediate concern and also wider issues of mutual interest, but all in vain.

For the record, Botswana has since independence in 1966 developed necessary institutions and ensured a proper role of Government. The BDP Government has for over 45 years embraced the values of true democracy such as rule of law, good governance and tolerance, which form the basis of our fraternal relations with the ANC. As a matter of fact, Botswana’s support for human rights, including South Africa’s liberation struggle was unparalleled. This was categorically highlighted by the ANC Secretary General, Mr Gwede Mantashe, in his recent visit to Botswana during the BDP National Congress.

We can qualify that the BDP leadership of today made an immense contribution politically and administratively as young people in early 60s, 70s and 80s, not only in Botswana, but also in the entire Front-line State region, which sought to liberate South Africa from the apartheid regime. The current BDP youth draws direction and inspiration from this.

Regarding the African agenda and the purported security threat that Botswana poses, we wish to state that our foreign policy incorporates principles that Botswana shares with the rest of the world such as sovereign equality of states, non-interference in internal affairs and respect for political independence. Others are good neighbourliness, respect for territorial integrity of other states and respect for international law. It is regretful to note that the statement attributed to the ANC Youth League seems to be in stark contrast to these ideals. We however are very appreciative of the position recently shared by both the ANC Spokesperson ÔÇô Jackson Mthembu and the ANC Secretary General- Mr Gwede Mantashe, which buttress this.

Our Government’s foreign policy direction has always been influenced by the orientation of SADC, African Union, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and United Nations. Above all, our foreign policy, whose normative and philosophical foundations are the four principles of democracy, development, self-reliance and unity has taken our nation thus far.

We understand and respect the position taken by the ANC Youth League, but wish to reiterate our commitment to continue engaging them on various issues of mutual interest.

However well-intentioned their position may be, we have no doubt that open discussion at this stage will lead to a lessening of attitudes, which will make the task of engagement and cooperation going forward an easier one.

This is part of the common experience of many fraternal organizations. Such move will undoubtedly create a path of lasting solution, which is desirable. To this end, It is our firm belief that our organizations will find a common ground to strengthen, solidify and sustain our fraternal relations.

Mr. Bontsi Monare
Chairperson, BDP NYEC
Gaborone, BOTSWANA
August 04, 2011

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