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Mrs Michelle Obama’s Visit to Botswana

D 5 juillet 2011     H 05:08     A     C 0 messages

The three Opposition Parties represented in Botswana Parliament, namely, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the Botswana National Front (BNF) have learnt through media reports that the wife of the President of the United States of America Mrs Michelle Obama will be visiting the Republic of Botswana sometimes this month. The purpose of her visit, we are informed, will be focused on promoting issues related to youth leadership, education, health and wellness. The choice of Botswana for a visit by the Obamas, we further learn, is an acknowledgement by the US government of Botswana ’s record of democracy and judicious use of resources. As opposition parties in the Republic of Botswana , we are of the view that Mrs Obama’s visit is ill-timed. The visit is taking place at a time when the country has just come out of a historic public sector strike that has exposed several weaknesses about Botswana and its government.

It has emerged very clearly during the strike that the current government of the Republic Botswana is insensitive to the plight of the workers in particular and its citizens in general. The government has breached all industrial relations protocols, in the process leading to a disruption of normal life in the country. The health and education systems have been severely disrupted by government’s intransigence. The short and long term impact of the disruption of the health and education sector is dire. The government’s failure to compromise has precipitated a public health catastrophe that shall be difficult to resolve. The loss of learning for school going children will also have long term consequences for the progress of the children at schools. Many children’s educational life will be permanently disrupted.

The public sector strike has also exposed the weaknesses of our democracy. The President has refused to receive advice from all institutions, including the General Assembly of Members of Parliament. The government has throughout the period of the strike shut off the airwaves of state media facilities to the workers and all other alternative views. The ruthlessness with which the police dealt with striking workers and protesting school children was also unprecedented. School children were in some cases detained without due consideration to the obtaining law in the country. Some workers have also been arrested under very suspicious circumstances. Government has dismissed several employees from work and re-employment is wrought with punitive measures.

Botswana government has been very repressive of late. It has shown no respect for freedom of expression. The President, in particular, has shown very little regard for parliament as a custodian and embodiment of people’s wishes and aspirations. It is on this basis that we would like to inform the First lady of the United States of America that her visit to Botswana is ill-timed. We wish to put it on record that her visit to Botswana at this time shall be construed as an endorsement of the situation that is currently obtaining in Botswana . We hold the First Lady of the United States in high esteem and we believe she should not have associated herself with a country that is showing scant respect for its citizens. Our sincere hope is that the First Lady will take note of the deteriorating state of Botswana ’s democracy, the declining standards of our education and health systems as well as the intransigent attitude of the Lt General Ian Khama Seretse Khama government towards industrial relations.

The First Lady of the United States should be aware, as she rolls out her visit in Botswana , that some schools are closed and yet in others no effective teaching or instruction is taking place. This is detrimental to the future of our children and it will be difficult for many of them to pursue their dreams. The First Lady of the United States should be worried about this state of affairs in a country that was hitherto acclaimed as a model of success in Africa .

Signed :

Taolo Lucas for BCP

Odirile Motlhale for BMD

Moeti Mohwasa for BNF