In a stunning and unexpected display of oratorical eloquence and candor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi last week charted his own presidential course which diverged from that of his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Fielding questions from the floor during the International Institute of Strategic Studies 2018 Oppenheim Speech, Masisi looked every part of an international statesman as he cleverly navigated questions about, DRC and Zimbabwe and managed to speak at length on China without offending, and professed that “China is but a country, Chinese are but a people and so are we.”
In a clear break from President Khama’s adversarial relationship with the media and workers’unions, Masisi stated that his top two priorities in the less than 18 months leading to the elections would be to create jobs and make peace with the media and civil society. Masisi said he would “engage with the media and young people to address the challenges before us. You need to engage those you agree with and those you disagree with.”saying in the end we have to”agree to disagree.”
In another poignant break from the Khama administration, the new President seems determined to mend relations with China. He said “China was attempting to do for itself what many have attempted. … China will happen. It does not matter what Botswana thinks or does. China will be China so we have to adapt ourselves to living with China, get the best out of what we have in the relationship and share with them and make them share the values that we have of how sovereign states relate…. China is but a country and the Chinese are but a people. So are we.”