Speaking last month during joint press conference with the US President, which was broadcast to a global audience from the Oval Office of the White House, President Khama observed:
“I certainly passed on my appreciation to President Obama for having had the opportunity to meet with him and to share views about the bilateral cooperation that we have had between our two countries ÔÇö areas on trades, areas on health, and also to share how both countries are tackling this current economic downturn. And we also had the opportunity to talk about environmental issues, climate change and the upcoming Copenhagen summit.
And lastly, also about regional issues and how we can try and go about entrenching democracy both in the mindset and the way we go about all our activities on the continent, the African Union in particular.”
Perhaps Kesitegile Gobotswang missed this and other occasions when our President has prominently appeared on the world stage over the past two years, such as various SADC Summits or when he was invited to London by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for pre-G8 Summit consultations. Otherwise it is hard to explain the BCP deputy’s latest criticism of Khama in various private newspapers (e.g. Mmegi 9/12/09; Guardian 10/12/09), where he writes:
“He seems to have an irrational fear to dialogue with other leaders both locally and internationally”, to which he further adds: “It is important for Khama to get his priorities right if Botswana is to be a key team player in world affairs.”
While Rre Gobotswang is entitled to his opinion it is clearly at variance with that of many of the world leaders President Khama has been having dialogue with. Obama, for example, recently praised Khama “for showing his own extraordinary leadership in helping to move his country forward on a range of issues, from how to deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis to addressing economic development to dealing with some of the regional problems that exist. On each of these areas I think Botswana has been a real leader.”
To justify his own, unorthodox, conclusion Rre Gobotswang offers as evidence the undeniable but hardly persuasive fact that Khama will not be attending this week’s Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, where Botswana will otherwise be ably represented by Vice President Merafhe as well as the Minister Mokaila, among others.
Then there is Gobotswang’s feeble complaint, which could have been lifted straight out of the Herald newspaper, that Khama “once missed a crucial SADC meeting on the Zimbabwean crisis preferring to attend an international non-governmental organization meeting.”
The above would be in apparent reference to the hastily convened one day Extraordinary SADC Summit of the 9th of November 2008; on which occasion President Khama was among the nine out of fifteen Heads of State and Government who chose not to attend this so-called “crucial SADC meeting”. In our President’s case, the Summit invitation coincided with his departure for the USA, where he did attend a meeting of Conservation International, an organization that currently supports the work of over 1,200 environmental groups around the world, notably including hundreds on the African continent including Botswana.
Dr. Jeff Ramsay
Office of the President