Thursday, October 28, 2021

Miller is second ambassador to be summoned and named in 10 years

At least according to what the former foreign affairs spokesperson, Clifford Maribe, said in the past, it is standard practice for the Botswana government to summon envoys to register a protest or concern that, in turn, would be communicated to the latter’s government. However, information about such development never reached the ears of the public until June 2008 when then Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana, Thomas Mandigora, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (renamed the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation) over the political turmoil in his country. He would be summoned again two years later and once more information about such development was revealed to the public.

Until Friday, Mandigora held the record of being the only envoy to have been summoned and named. He has now been joined by the United States Ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller, following an unfortunate development in the latter’s country the previous day. Nobody could have foreseen a day when Botswana put the US and Zimbabwe in the same category but that has happened. Summoning an envoy and communicating that information to the public is not exactly on the same level as naming and shaming but by an established Botswana standard, there is something odious about it.

During a meeting with senators to thrash out an immigration deal last Thursday, President Donald Trump, used some vile language that later found its way on to newspaper front pages.” A statement from the foreign affairs ministry reveals that the Botswana government “summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the President of the US, Donald Trump, when he referred to African countries and others as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House.” Botswana precisely wanted to know whether the US considers it a “shithole” country.

If Botswana ever had rooftop diplomacy, by tackling the number one superpower in the world the country has certainly upgraded to rooftop-tower diplomacy and is finally getting the international recognition its political leaders long craved. Trump’s remarks have drawn worldwide condemnation and Botswana’s unique approach to the controversy has attracted a lot of international media attention from news organisations such as CNN, BBC, Sky News, New York Times and Washington Post. The rooftop diplomacy was an invention and staple of President Ian Khama’s administration. As he prepares to leave office on April 1 this year, Khama has become bolder in his conduct of this sort of diplomacy. Last month alone, the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation issued two separate statements condemning Trump, one on his decision to controversially recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the other on Trump’s threat to punish countries (like Botswana) that formally condemned the latter decision through a United Nations vote.

Miller’s summoning happens as he completes his tour of duty in Botswana this year. Given how Trump operates and supposing he is not impeached this year, it may be years before Miller is replaced.

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