Government’s predisposition to compensate politicians who have lost elections by appointing them to ambassadorial positions is blocking the progression of Botswana’s career diplomats, Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi has said.
Speaking in parliament recently the Alliance for Progressives Legislator said the practice has the potential to demotivate career diplomats who keep hoping to reach the apex of their profession.
Mmolotsi posed questions to the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng at the just ended winter session of Botswana Parliament.
The Legislator wanted to know the number of Ambassadors and High Commissioners who are career diplomats and those who are political appointees, the qualifications needed for one to be a High Commissioner or Ambassador, and the number of people who lost elections and were appointed as Ambassadors or High Commissioners in the last 10 years.
“Botswana has a total of 23 envoys representing her national interests in strategic countries abroad. There are 11 High Commissioners and Ambassadors, and one Consul General who are career diplomats as they progressed within the ranks of the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation,” Morwaeng responded.
“The other 11 joined the ministry as High Commissioners or Ambassadors from other professions in Botswana. These are therefore political appointees. It should be noted that all High Commissioners and Ambassadors are appointed by His Excellency the President.”
Morwaeng said the minimum qualification required as per the Job Effectiveness Description (JED) of the public service for Ambassadors and High Commissioners is for one to hold a Degree in Social Sciences, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, Law, Marketing, Public Administration or a related field.
He said, to the best of his knowledge, a total of four appointed Ambassadors and High Commissioners in the past 10 years had lost in elections.
“It should be noted that High Commissioners and Ambassadors as envoys of their respective countries, have the primary role of promoting and safeguarding their country’s interest in the country of their accreditation. In this regard, it is expected that these be personalities having an in-depth knowledge of their country’s national priorities, challenges and development aspirations.”
Morwaeng said although these appointments had lost in elections, they had the requisite in-depth knowledge of their country.
The latest politicians and former MPs to be appointed as Ambassadors or High Commissioners include Kitso Mokaila (US), Dorcas Makgato (Australia), Dr. John Seakgosing (UK), and Gilbert Mangole (India). Makgato and Mangole lost in the most recent General Elections.
Morwaeng said these kind of appointments could not demoralize career diplomats. “I do not think anyone will be demotivated because everyone who knows diplomacy knows the process of appointing an Ambassador or High Commissioner. That is if the person is a Foreign Affairs diplomat. They know that the appointment is done by the President looking at the national interests in strategic countries abroad,” he said, adding “Another thing sir that a person once stood for elections does not mean that she or he has committed a crime and cannot be sent to represent the country. If you run for elections and do not become successful, it does not mean that the country cannot make use of your services to serve the nation.”