“Do not punch above your weight”, this was part of what could possibly be described as a pre -birthday message to President Ian Khama from the leader of opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko.
Khama’s birthday was last Saturday and Boko used the Friday sitting to “lecture” the birthday-man on international relations and foreign policy.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament Friday morning, Boko said his party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is concerned with the way the government of Botswana has acted in relations with the recent impasse between China and Botswana.
Boko’s Friday address in parliament comes after Sunday Standard reported in its last edition of the temporary closure of the Chinese embassy in Gaborone following a political impasse between the two trade partners. Scores of Botswana investors who import their merchandise from China were last week left in the lurch after Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered an indefinite closure of the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone. The decision was following a press statement issued by Botswana accusing China of imposing “its power over others to make claims because of “its economy or military.”
“We are on the firm view that, in the first instance, it serves no purpose to issue a statement to publicize any view that the government of Botswana may hold in relation to China on this matter. Botswana should have realised that the trust China places on the people of Botswana as well as the privilege available to us to engage China through the right diplomatic channels.”, Boko said.
In a swift change of mood after reading two paragraphs from his speech, Boko noted that the Botswana statement on China might not have been crafted by Foreign Affairs minister, Dr Pelonomi Venson Moitoi.
“We have it on good authority that this is yet another act by the over-zealous and immature office of the President which continues to govern and operate on unbridled emotion and astonishing lack of foresight. We pray and hope that this callous mismanagement of our foreign policy does not plunge our country into an abyss from which we may not be able to extricate ourselves”
Continuing with his speech, Boko said Khama is like a demon propitiated only by human sacrifice, a part that did not go well with defence minister Shaw Kgathi. Kgathi together with other cabinet ministers including Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi relayed their displeasure to the deputy speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi. They called on the speaker to have the debate suspended until Boko clarify part of his statement which he said was based on “falsehood”. Molatlhegi later agreed and ordered that the debate will only be continued once the Hansard has been prepared in the coming week.
Boko’s speech also saw two UDC members of parliament, Haskins Nkayigwa and Wynter Mmolotsi ordered to march out of parliament by Molatlhegi. Molatlhegi said the two legislatures, who were attempting to contribute to the debate were “out of order”. The debate on Boko’s speech is expected to continue this coming week.