Thursday, June 30, 2022

Bolele calls for a review of relations with Swaziland

Newly-elected Member of Parliament for Mahalapye West, Bernard Bolele, has expressed disappointment over President Ian Khama’s foreign policy.

Speaking in parliament on Monday, Bolele said the policy needs to be revised. He was responding to the State of the Nation Address by President Khama.

Making his maiden speech, Bolele poked holes in Botswana’s foreign policy, just falling short of laying an accusation of double standards.

Bolele came into parliament after the retirement of former Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe who had also been the country’s long serving foreign affairs minister.

“We are known to be the first country to make pronouncements over countries that violate human rights and civil liberties … but when it comes to our neighbouring country, Swaziland, I am disappointed and surprised by our deafening silence.”

Bolele said the situation in Swaziland deserved Botswana’s attention.

“The situation in that country is pathetic and sad and cannot be enjoyed by anyone. If we fear we could ruffle the feathers, we should at the same bear in mind that charity begins at home,” he advised, urging the leadership to be firm and stick to principles “we believe in”.

Africa’s last monarchy, Swaziland is ruled by a king who, under a decree, has long banned political parties. Dissenting voices are reportedly viewed with suspicion by King Mswati III as the freedom of expression, particularly in the press, is either censored or banned.

Citing the pronouncements Botswana used to make during apartheid South Africa era and the recent atrocities committed in Zimbabwe, Libya, Syria and Madagascar, Bolele called on President Khama to keep the same steam and momentum over Swaziland.

“Although I have no right over what our president should do or not, I believe he should have touched over Swaziland in his address. Problems start here in our area and I believe it is our duty to perform and make our continent habitable and free of any violations and harm of any kind,” he said.

Elected recently via a by-election, the Mahalapye west MP also did not take kindly to what he termed ‘bureaucratic immigration policies’ that have the propensity to chase away foreign investors.

“Work permits take long time to be processed, which in itself adversely affects our direct foreign investment drive. If these problems are not properly addressed, the outside world will negatively review our policies and thus negatively affect our direct foreign investment growth.”
He said serious foreign investors do not welcome such inconveniences.

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