Prince Andrew, the English prince who stands accused in a United States court of sexually assaulting a minor, represented Britain when Botswana turned 50 in 2016. Interestingly, this happened at a time that skeletons were just beginning to tumble out of Andrew’s closet.
After attending the BOT50 festivities, Andrew visited Francistown in the company of then Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner to Botswana, Oliver Richards. There he toured the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education and the Botswana Meat Commission and also met British citizens living in the city.
At FCTVE, Andrew, who was trade envoy at the time, was updated about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme for projects by female trainees. Addressing the trainees, Andrew said that engineering and science were a vital cog in the development of every nation.
“We cannot do anything without engineering and science. Be strategic thinkers. Do all you can to turn your ideas into viable products. Do not be afraid to give it a try. Some ideas will make a telling difference,” the Mmegi of October 6, 2016 quotes him as saying.
While nobody here ever publicly made an issue of Andrew’s choice as British representative, such choice was eyebrow-raising because of what been revealed five years earlier. In March 2011, BBC had reported that Andrew’s friendship with a convicted paedophile, an American financier called Jeffrey Epstein, was producing “a steady stream of criticism” and a source of grave concern for some leaders. Three years later, Andrew was accused of having sexually assaulted a minor. That minor is now a grown woman and is suing Andrew, with whom she alleges she had sex with on three occasions, when she was just 17. Buckingham Palace would later defend the prince, asserting in a press statement that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.” While Andrew denies ever having sex with the woman (called Virginia Giuffre), he acknowledges meeting her at a party thrown by Epstein.
In a David-and-Goliath legal battle, Giuffre’s battle continues and a fortnight ago, David scored a decisive victory when the court ruled that the matter should proceed. Andrew’s lawyers had made an application that it be dismissed. Following this ruling, Andrew’s military affiliations and royal patronages were returned to his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who bestowed them upon him in the first place.
That a man accused of sexual assault (rape actually) would have pride of place at a high-profile national event was yet another example of the dastardly manner in which the west still treats Africa. Andrew was forced out of his role as trade envoy because he had become an embarrassment to Buckingham Palace and Britain. While he could no longer undertake high-profile assignments in the west, he could in a former British colony in Africa. Another dimension of the issue shows how dangerously undiscerning Botswana’s government officials can be. Any man accused of rape should never be allowed anywhere near girls. In Andrew’s case, a special arrangement was made for him to interact with girl trainees about the same age as Giuffre was when he reportedly had sex with her.