Dr Gladys Mokhawa – Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of International Affairs called it a “beautiful summer day” in Botswana. The United Nations Day, globally celebrated on 24 October each year is set aside to reflect the official creation of the United Nations on 24 October 1945. In Botswana, for the year 2021, the celebrations were delayed until this past Thursday, at an event at which Mokhawa made the “beautiful summer day” remarks. It was however not Mokhawa’s “beautiful summer day” speech that caught the attention of everyone. It was her co-host – Zia Choudhury, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Botswana’s speech that moved the audience that include Mokhawa’s boss – Lemogang Kwape, Finance and Economic Development Minister Peggy Serame and minister responsible for research Dr Douglas Letsholathebe.
Choudhury’s message of the day was short: history can easily mean nothing if troubles facing the vulnerable populace remain unattended. He cited a few troubles that humanity faced during ancient and most recent times. The triumph against these troubles, now part of history, can easily be forgotten according to Choudhury.
To drive his point home, Choudhury gives an example of how Botswana has long defined herself as a nation that went from poorest to richest.
“The nation that remained peaceful while others fell to conflict. The nation that invested its wealth most wisely, and with least corruption and we are rightly proud, even astonished, at these achievements. But now, our challenge is that of inequality,” Choudhury said.
He reminded the “beautiful summer day” audience that inequality has started to define Botswana.
“Inequality such as we have in Botswana, can easily lead to a new generation to forget the achievements we are proud of. Just as most people can’t remember world wars, or life before immunisation, or even the horrors and indignities of apartheid in our neighbouring countries”.
Choudhury posits that a new generation can forget why their parents fought so hard for human rights in the first place. Such generation, the UN Botswana top man suggests, rightly judge history through the reality of their present life today.
“Inequality can wash away our achievements, leaving behind not pride, but shame. Not joy, but despair. Not cooperation, but confrontation,” Choudhury, who boasts over 25 years of experience in development and humanitarian work said.
In a bid to ensure that Botswana’s history of prudent management of natural resources is not easily erased, the government on Thursday signed the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF 2022 to 2026). The new framework addresses issues related to inequality, sustainable use and management of diverse natural resources, as well as the combating of climate change and improving food security in the country.
The signing of the new framework comes at a time when there are worries that the Covid 19 pandemic has hard hit on many households in Botswana. An economic think tank – Econsult says the broader socio-economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in Botswana may be hidden by a lack of up-to-date data. Statistics Botswana, a government data collecting agency is expected to provide a detailed report on the impact of Covid 19 on the livelihoods of Batswana.