President Ian Khama is expected to be amongst thousands, including other regional leaders, in Bloemfontein for celebrations marking the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress (ANC) today (Sunday).
The Deputy Permanent Secretary, Government Communication, Dr Jeff Ramsay, said that President Khama will be accompanied by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi, who will be representing the Botswana Democratic Party. He also stated that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani, and MP Daniel Kwelagobe will be part of the delegation for the ANC event.
“There is an element of political and official government duty regarding this trip, and it is a combination of the two as there is a representative from the ruling party,” said Ramsay.
Ramsay stated that the Centenary celebrations will commence with the midnight lighting of the “centenary flame” by South African President Jacob Zuma. He said the main daytime observance will take place at the Wesleyan Church in Waaihoek, Bloemfontein, where delegates from Botswana and Lesotho, as well as across South Africa, will gather to endorse Pixley ka Seme’s call for the formation of the ANC as a “united voice” for black people in southern Africa.
Ramsay added that in the decades that followed, people of Botswana were among those who supported the ANC in its decades’ long struggle to overthrow the racist apartheid regime, many as members of the movement itself. He further said that from 1960, Botswana also served as the major sanctuary and escape route following the Apartheid Regime’s banning of the ANC. He revealed that in 1962, the ANC held it first conference in exile in Lobatse.
According to Ramsay, a government spokesperson and historian, following its own independence in 1966, Botswana as a Frontline State, joined others in the region and international community in extending its solidarity and support for the South African liberation struggle and
subsequent transition to democracy. He said as a result Batswana, like others in the region, had the violence of the apartheid regime visited on its own territory.
“Botswana has good relations with South Africa in many ways, as well as with other neighbouring countries,” he said.