Botswana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Roy Blackbeard does not want to pre-empt when he is coming back home; he will stay in the United Kingdom until his principals decide it’s time for him to come back to Botswana.
Speaking to The Telegraph in an interview on the side lines of the annual Heads of Mission conference held in Gaborone, Blackbeard said contrary to what people say about him being the longest serving Botswana diplomat he is not.
He said there have been diplomats who served much longer than him.
“It is alleged that I am there because I gave up my constituency to the current President Ian Khama and he is keeping me there to pay the price. That is not true. I do not know where this idea that Khama is indebted to me is coming from. The truth is I grew up with the Khamas, they were my neighbours,” said Blackbeard.
He says he long gave up his constituency before elections and before Khama joined politics.
“The reasons why I gave up my constituency were because at the time I had gone through a very tough period. I was involved in an exercise where we eradicated more than 300 000 heads of cattle. It wasn’t an easy exercise and what we had to do wasn’t nice. I had to live around the situation coming to report to cabinet once a week on the matter and it took a toll on me,” he said emphasizing that all this happened before President Khama joined politics.
Blackbeard said he will never ever go back into politics.
“I believe very strongly that when you leave politics you will never go back again. I will not go back into politics ever,” he said.
He added that the debt he is told President Khama owes him is not really a debt.
“I take it that I am performing my duties well. If I was not performing my duties then my principals would have long recalled me. I cover 11 countries and I take it that the countries that I cover are satisfied with my work,” he said.
Blackbeard further said people do not understand that he is not a career diplomat. He is a political appointee, he said.
“Normally career diplomats would serve one or two terms and the advantage of being a political appointee who served for a long period of time is that you are able to open a lot more doors in the sense that during the time you are there you get exposure,” said Blackbeard who further emphasized that he is still in the UK because he is doing his duties and his principals have no reason to recall him.
Blackbeard worked for De Beers and Price Waterhouse, as well as operating his own company.
He became a Member of the National Assembly of Botswana in 1989, representing Serowe North for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). He was appointed the Assistant Minister for Agriculture in 1992 and the Minister in 1994 a position he held until 1997.
In 1998 he left Parliament and was appointed the High Commissioner to London to date, a position he has held to date.
There has been debates at Parliamentary level about his overstay in the United Kingdom compared to other diplomats who have been transferred to different countries.