President Ian Khama last week spoke out against US President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw Washington from the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Watchers of the Paris Agreement, which has been ratified by 110 countries, are worried that the fragile compromise may unravel should America pull out.
The fears were raised during last week’s global climate meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, where delegates from across the world issued appeals for Washington to stick to its commitments, among them Khama.
“No current or incoming administrations should attempt to undo our collective will as people of the world to do what is overdue to make our planet a better place and guarantee the continued existence of all life on it,” Khama said.
Khama’s statement comes at a time when he faces the unenviable task of swallowing his pride and issuing a grudging congratulation to the President-elect or risk being the only SADC Head of State who has not congratulated Trump on his election victory, straining the good relations with the US.
At least thrice during the American election campaign, Khama took pot shots at the US president elect, which are now coming back to haunt him.
At a point where he was just getting into his stride as a primary elections candidate, Trump announced that if elected, he would ban all Muslims from entering the US as well as mass-deport some 11 million illegal immigrants. Russia did not participate in the Special Olympics after the International Paralympics Committee banned all athletes from that country as punishment for state-sanctioned doping. A keen sportsman, Khama felt the need to post a statement on Facebook.
“We strongly condemn the decision by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) for imposing a Donald Trump-style ban on all Russian Paralympic athletes,” the statement reads.
At his party’s Extra Ordinary Congress in Mogoditshane earlier this year, Khama pointed out people in the crowd who had combined the national and party colours before observing that: “I can see there are those who are very smart in the crowd; they managed to combine all the colours. If you look around you will realise the people who I am talking about.” In reference to his own attire, he added: “Anyway I do not want to brag about it; I do not want to be like Donald Trump.”
The President did not mention Trump by name the first time he tackled him on Facebook. That was in February this year when Khama expressed concern about “some of the utterances that have come out during the recent (US) presidential debates.” It was in one of those debates that Trump revealed his plans for Mexicans and illegal immigrants ÔÇô some of whom could possibly be Batswana.
So far at least 10 of the 15 SADC Heads of State have already congratulated Trump following his victory in the just ended US elections.
In a closely contested election, Trump was declared victorious when voters eager to shake the US establishment picked the celebrity businessman to become the nation’s 45th president.
Most SADC leaders have already expressed that they are looking forward to working with the incoming Trump, with the exception of Botswana, Madagascar, Lesotho and Namibia.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was among the first leaders from the region to congratulate Trump. Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu was also among the first SADC leaders to congratulate Trump. According to a statement from the Special Assistant to President Amos Chanda, Lungu said the outcome of the elections reflected the trust and confidence the Americans have in Trump to lead the country towards major transformation in the social, economic, and political discourse as articulated in his campaign.
He said the Zambian government was looking forward to working with the new Administration in addressing issues of mutual concern at both bilateral and multi-lateral levels for the benefit of the two countries and the global community at large.
Malawi leader Arthur Peter Mutharika also congratulated the Republican candidate for emerging victorious. Within hours of Trump being declared winner over Democrat Hillary Clinton, President Mutharika posted on his official Facebook page extending his congratulations, putting him among the first few African leaders to do so together with Egyptian leader Abdel Sisi and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
“Let me take this opportunity to congratulate President-elect of United States of America, Donald Trump, following his victory in Tuesday’s election. As a model of democracy to the whole world, the US sets the pace on how democratic values are nurtured to achieve meaningful and inclusive development across the board,” reads the statement.
He further expressed hope that a Trump presidency would not in any way affect policy and diplomatic arrangements despite power shifting from the liberals to conservatives.
The Angolan head of State Jos├® Eduardo dos Santos also joined in the rush to congratulate Trump on his victory. The congratulation message was contained in a press note released by Civil Office of the President of that Republic. According to the note, Dos Santos wished Trump many successes in the fulfillment of his mandate.
The Angolan leader expressed hope that the new US President would translate his mandate into prosperity and happiness for the American people. Dos Santos said he hoped Trump would foster a period of greater dialogue and international cooperation that would enable the resolution of pressing issues and ensure peace and security in the world. He seized the opportunity to express his desire to strengthen the mutually beneficial relations of friendship and cooperation between Angola and the United States.
The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, also congratulated Trump. In his congratulatory message sent on behalf of the Seychellois government and people, President Faure wished Trump “every success as he prepares to discharge the important duties which lay ahead.” Faure highlighted what he termed as “excellent and steady progression in cooperation” in various fields of interest between Seychelles and the US. “Over the years this esteemed partnership has been invigorated by mutual values such as social progress, justice, freedom and equality, which have served to support and reinforce the foundations from which we draw our common perspectives,” he added.
Other SADC leaders that have already congratulated Trump are Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth, King Mswati III of Swaziland and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Trump has, however, rejected Zimbabwe’s congratulatory message charging that the new American administration will not entertain corruption in African countries. He has even threatened to cut all foreign aids to Africa immediately after he takes office in January. According to Trump’s head of media team Caroline Guy Bills, the newly elected President in waiting will not accept any congratulatory message coming from African countries that are marred with corruption.
Zimbabwe had earlier congratulated the US President-elect following his stunning win, which sent shock waves across the world. In a statement issued after Trump’s victory, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to United States Mr Ammon Machingambi Mutembwa stated: “The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. They have chosen Donald Trump as their 45th President. Zimbabwe congratulates Mr Trump for his victorious campaign, and his main opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton, for her valiant effort.”
The official further stated: “The ties that bind Zimbabwe and the United States of America are close and strong. They are old, and based in the values that we hold dear: in democracy, in the rule of law, and in the equality of people. These values remain dear to the people of both nations, and so our friendship will endure”.