Sunday, July 3, 2022

Canada not about to set up diplomatic office in Botswana ÔÇô Governor General

Trade relations and people exchanges between Botswana and Canada have not yet reached a threshold that would make Canada consider opening a fully fledged High Commission office in Botswana.

This was said by Canada’s visiting Governor General, David Johnston.

Johnston was on a three-day state visit to Botswana.

During his stay in Botswana, Johnston held lengthy talks with President Ian Khama.

Among the issues discussed has been how the two countries can take their relations to higher levels.

While many Batswana will be disappointed to learn that attributes are not yet sufficient to warrant the opening of a full diplomatic post by Canada, Johnston said Botswana should be proud of what they have achieved since independence.

“It is important to highlight that Botswana ranks very high on transparency, that it is a country of happy, cheerful people, that it is a country with a long history that is proud to have been a part of. We have a great admiration for the remarkable achievements Botswana has made,” said Johnston.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Standard, Johnston said Botswana’s is a great story of admiration of which Canada does not only want to be a part but would also be happy to help sell to the outside world.

Johnston said with Botswana the world’s largest diamond produce and Canada the third, the two countries certainly had a lot in common.

He said the fact that Botswana government is a shareholder in a mine in Canada makes the relationship even more special.

Johnston said his interactions with President Khama centered on how the two countries could expand already existing bilateral relations on education, military training and health.

He said there will also be enhanced cooperation on curriculum for Staff College, adding that there is, however, trust between the two nations which has been cultivated over many years.

He said from now on, Canada will strive to make Botswana’s voice heard across the world.
Johnston said the world is currently living in an age that belongs to Africa.

This, he said, was a result of sweeping movement towards democratising across the continent as well as economic growths that far surpass all regions of the world.

Referring to President Ian Khama as a “great and remarkable man of whom we have a great admiration for”, Johnston said he was aware of the negative sentiment against Africa that is fostered by the Western Media. The mistake, he said, was that many westerners tended to see Africa as one big country that is plagued by war, poverty and disease.

This negative sentiment, tended to crowd out success stories such as Botswana’s, he said.

Johnson added that he would do his bit to help the Canadians understand that Africa is a big continent, with many countries, many customs and many traditions, and that it is wrong to paint the entire continent with one brush.

“It is most unfortunate that the West sees Africa as one country. But in that I can tell you that you are not alone. As a Canadian I am very much familiar with stories where we often are confused as Americans. We share with Botswana the misfortune of being in the shadow of a big and powerful neighbour,” he said comparing Botswana’s proximity to South Africa, the continent’s powerhouse, to the situation between Canada and the United States of America.

He also regretted that the media has not done enough to put a spotlight on Botswana so as to highlight the country’s successes on entrenching a culture of democracy at a time when democracy was very much in short supply across the African continent.

“To use the boxing analogy, Botswana is punching very much above its weight. But discerning people are very much united that this country has a place in the Western World. With time, Botswana will become even more special,” said Johnston.

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