Monday, December 6, 2021

Botswana’s international image diminished – Internal report

An internal report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has come to the conclusion that Botswana’s internal image and respect have diminished.

The report also spells out in detail suggestions that President Mokgweetsi Masisi faces a mammoth task ahead of him of repairing the damage done to the country’s international image and prestige.

The damage happened over the last decade during the tenure of his predecessor former President Ian Khama.

The report also details how the new President has to contend with the fact that the Ministry of International Corporation and Foreign Affairs officials lack integrity as they have been ‘feeding’ the Office of the President with wrong information for personal gains.

The fact finding mission report compiled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Reforms Unity dated January 2017 states that Botswana’s threats to its international image is due to “diminished international respect” and “lack of coordinated Foreign Policy within government agencies.”  

The report also identified Botswana’s weakness in the eyes of the international community as being “lack of defined policies i.e. in Foreign Policy and Human Resources.”

According to the report, there is “disconnection between state agencies/organs on foreign policy i.e. Executive and Legislative.”

“For the organisation to run efficiently and effectively there is need for policies and procedures to be put in place. The officers raised a concern that lack of foreign policy compromises the operations of missions,” the report which was compiled after consulting meeting the ministry’s employees states.

It found that “There is a lot of inconsistencies and lack of standard across missions. Furthermore it confuses the Ministry customers as there is no clarity.”  

While former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Pelonomi Venson Moitoi publicly defended former President Khama that he had done enough to support her when she wanted to succeed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as African Union Commission chairperson, the report found that “there is lack of support for candidatures.”

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe also mocked Khama for his unenthusiastic attitude towards campaigning for Venson-Moitoi

“We worked hard. They worked hard, sweated, they sweated, you sweated, we sweated, (but) one man didn’t sweat. He stayed at home and expected that wonders would happen and they didn’t happen. We were very sorry, everybody just said: ‘Aah, you. We have not seen your President here. He doesn’t attend our meetings and what would happen if we placed our organisation in your hands, in his hand? So sorry lady’.

“She worked hard. She was very sorry to lose, we were sorry also, but we knew in advance that we were trying a very impossible one,” he said before bursting into laughter.

The report also highlighted Botswana and China’s diplomatic row following a decision by the former issued a press statement condemning China’s position on the China Sea controversy. The report identified China’s simmering regional disputes as threat to its relations with Botswana.

Under former President Khama Botswana’s positions on Sudanese President Hassan  al-Bashir’s warrant of arrest, issuance of statements criticizing Syria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Swaziland and China were viewed as flaws in the country’s foreign policy.

Since taking over from former President Khama in April this year, Masisi has travelled to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola as part of a regional diplomatic charm offensive to strengthen relations between Gaborone and their capitals. He has also replaced Venson-Moitoi with Vincent Seretse.

Botswana also lacks what the report called a Communication Plan.

“The Communication Plan has not been shared with the Ministry. This therefore limits the communication in the Ministry to only statements. The Ministry functions are unknown as the Ministry does not participate in sensitizing the public on its mandate. They are limited to Gaborone and missions,” the report says.

It showed how the Ministry is in the habit of presenting false information to the Office of the President and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).

“There is a lack of integrity in the reports that are submitted to the OP and DPSM especially during the review period. Due to fear of being singled out as a non performer and emphasis on scoring good marks during assessment untrue information is presented.  This creates problems as issues cannot be resolved and therefore no improvement be made,” reads the report.

There are various plans that exist in the ministry, however poorly implemented, the report said.

“This leads to initiatives being left behind and officers responsible for those very frustrated. This issue cuts across both core and support staff,” the report said.

On the attitude of leadership at the Ministry the report said, “the officers feel that the Management of the Ministry operates at a very low altitude thus taking the jobs of lower officers in the Ministry. The Officers stated that they require the PS and Senior Staff to give the Ministry strategic direction and address cases that they had influence on.”

It also observed that “The officers feel that there is lack of management support because if officers come up with initiatives that can improve the Ministry they are not given a platform to execute that or even try. In the event that officers made an initiative they are not recognised for works given for the generic thank you letter after state visits.”

There is also lack of direction at the Ministry. “The Ministry Management does the strategy in a hurry and without consideration e.g. last year after working hard on a strategy it was dismantled in a day after management presence and this killed morale of the team. In addition, the Ministry management does not see the organisation holistically but rather only as core business as they are given more preference over support staff.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper