Botswana will disregard an appeal by the Swaziland Democratic Party calling for Swaziland Members of Parliament to be excluded from participating in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum and Pan African Partliament, minister Phandu Skelemani has told parliament.
Responding to a question by Reggie Reatile of Ngwaketse West, Skelemani said that Botswana respects Swaziland’s sovereignty.
The BNF legislator had sought to know from the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation “whether the Botswana government will support calls by the Swaziland Democratic Movement for the expulsion of Swazi Members of Parliament from the SADC Parliamentary Forum and Pan African Parliament, in view of the fact that they were elected through an undemocratic system”.
PUDEMO is championing the liberation of Swazi people from King Moswati III’s regime. The socialist party has been urging for political and economic reform in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
“Botswana believes that it is necessary for each nation, Swaziland being no exception, to chart its own development course for the good of its people,” he said
“…Swaziland is a constitutional monarchy. And so, the democratic systems that obtain in that country will certainly differ from those in most other countries,” he added.
Skelemani said that although Botswana is an advanced democracy when compared to other countries, it would be wrong for her to tell other nations how they should run their national affairs. He said although the Swaziland system of governance is different from Botswana’s, it does not mean that Swazi MPs were improperly appointed to the regional and continental bodies.
“In view of this…Botswana will not support calls by the Swaziland Democratic Party for the expulsion of Swazi Members of Parliament from participating in the SADC Parliamentary Forum and the Pan African Parliament. Swaziland Members of Parliament were duly elected and or appointed representatives, even if their system is not comparable to ours,” said Skelemani.
He further pointed out that, like in Zimbabwe, the country would take a firm position where there is a violation of a country’s constitution.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Reatile poured scorn at Skelemani’s response dismissing it as a contradiction.
“In Libya and Tunisia there was no violation of the constitution but rather it was an uprising but government went on to endorse these uprisings,” said Reatile. “In Swaziland people are in political exiles, others are in prison and lives are being lost almost daily…because they don’t want the monarchy,” he stated.
He said if Botswana insists it will not support the Swaziland Democratic Party, then her position on Libya and Tunisia were incorrect.