Opposition parties say they have every reason to suspect that the Botswana Government and the United States of America have already reached an agreement to have the American base for Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquartered in Botswana.
The two leading opposition parties, Botswana National Front and Botswana Congress Party, say they suspect it’s only a matter of time before a formal announcement is made.
Their suspicions were heightened this week by the visit to Botswana by the head of AFRICOM, General William Ward, a four star general.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, BCP Vice President Kesitlegile Gobotswang said while his party has not taken a stance on AFRICOM, the information to their access so far is not encouraging.
He said the executive will be meeting soon, and his bet is that they will join the BNF in rejecting the setting up of AFRICOM in Botswana.
He said his party is monitoring the government body language on the issue and they are discerning exactly the same behaviour that brought about the “CKGR shame.”
He, however, said they are worried that parliament like everyone else is being kept in the dark on the issue.
He said his party would have expected government to volunteer some information so as to kickstart the debate on the matter.
But he said it is disingenuous for President Festus Mogae to say they are still studying the proposals by the United States when so much public information exists about the American army overseas commands.
“We will not tolerate another situation where we are taken on board at the last only to endorse government when they have run out of ideas.”
Gobotswang said hosting AFRICOM will become a serious political issue for Botswana with potential terrorism backlashes.
BNF publicity chief, Moeti Mohwasa, echoed Gobotswang’s suspicions that a decision has already been made by the Botswana and United States government.
He said the two governments, however, are worried at breaking the news now because AFRICOM is universally unpopular among Batswana.
“We have heard wind that a decision has been made. If that is true then it would be unfortunate as Botswana would become a focus of terrorism attention,” said Moeti.
Like Gobotswang, Moeti said government should consult more.
He said his party has already taken a decision to reject AFRICOM coming to Botswana.
If Botswana government goes behind the scenes to agree to host AFRICOM, it would not be the first time a major decision involving the American army is made behind the nation’s back.
About five years ago, without consulting anyone, Mogae signed a pact that Botswana would never hand over the United States Service personnel to United Nations Human rights courts, not even for the worst crimes including genocide.