GABORONE ÔÇô President Dr Ian Khama has said that Botswana and Kenya, who are both former colonies of Britain, have nothing more to learn from their former political master as “the British people are now more confused”.
Khama’s remarks follow a recent decision by the British voting to cut ties with European Union, last week Thursday. Khama, who is partially British, used the state luncheon that Botswana hosted for visiting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) to make his first public comment on the pending withdrawal of UK’s membership from EU.
The withdrawal which is now popularly known as Brexit was made after a referendum that sent global markets tumbling since Friday morning. Following the referendum vote, there have been worries that Brexit could weaken trade ties between UK and Africa, including Botswana. There is also worry that an exit from EU by UK would have dire consequences for development assistance on the continent. Botswana primarily exports beef to a number of countries in Europe including the United Kingdom.
Apart from beef, Botswana also exports diamonds (more than 60% of total exports), copper and nickel, and textiles. Official figures show that Botswana’s main export partners are United Kingdom (56% of total exports), South Africa, Israel and Belgium.
However on Monday, taking a few minutes off his official written speech, Khama said that although, “there is nothing we can learn from UK as they are now more confused,” a great lesson from Brexit is that we always need to consult our people on all issues that concern them.
“This could be on issues like single currency or common market”.
Meanwhile despite Khama’s remarks, Kenyatta who spoke shortly after Khama avoided making any remarks on Brexit.
“Kenya and Botswana share many similarities and it is the intention of my Government to strengthen our economic ties,” Kenyatta said. The Kenyan President had however stated in a media statement released over the weekend that Kenya will support Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
“Regardless of what outcome any world leader envisioned or supported, the people of the United Kingdom spoke and made their voice heard. Kenya, will, of course, maintain its historic ties with Britain, while continuing to engage a stable European Union,” a statement by Kenyan statehouse spokesperson Manoah Esipisu partly read.