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52nd Anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Botswana

9 October 2018

Botswana was a major freedom fighter destination, having offered a safe haven to freedom fighters who were also facilitated, especially those on the hit-list, to move up to the north to countries like Zambia and Tanzania. In the 1960s, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Samora Machel, Sam Nujoma, Robert Mugabe, Jayson Moyo, Joe Slovo amongst others passed through Botswana.

Photo: High Commissioner of Botswana to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Zenene Sinombe addressing guests at the 52nd Independence celebration of Botswana

"Perhaps the time is now to instance the Umkhonto We Sizwe project aimed at putting up monuments in places of strategic importance to the struggle particularly along the corridor used through Botswana to Zambia," said High Commissioner Zenene Sinombe of Botswana, requesting the Chief Guest of Honor to take this message to the South African Government.

Statement by the High Commissioner of Botswana to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Zenene Sinombe on the occasion of the 52nd Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Botswana

1 October 2018

I would like to thank you all for joining us in this celebration of the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Botswana.

While this is a day of joy and festivities, let me express our sincerest condolences for the passing of Honourable Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa who passed on, I am told, on the 22nd of September 2018. Minister Molewa shall certainly be remembered for her role in the struggle towards the attainment of freedom in South Africa and the region as a whole; and her contribution to the development agenda of South Africa, in various capacities, including as the first female Premier of the North West Province. Her in-depth knowledge, passion, and leadership in environmental conservation, which contributed to the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015 and the successful hosting COP17 in Johannesburg, in 2016, will remain an inspiration.
 
Going back to why we are here tonight, this weekend, my colleagues, i.e. Botswana Envoys shared an article by a certain Canadian Journalist, a Mr Charles King who a few days before we joined the community of Nations as an independent state described Botswana as follows ;

"Bechuanaland, an impoverished, arid and hungry land without a hope of economic stability makes its debut this week among the community of nations......

More than one-fifth of the population is literally being kept alive by emergency feeding and the numbers are rapidly increasing.......

It has a single railway line, owned and operated by neighbouring Rhodesia, and a national airline with one plane, a rickety, well-worn DC-3. It has 2000 cars and trucks, 1600 telephones and a national radio service that broadcasts for two hours a day.

It also has debts, economic misery and it is destined to be an international charity case!"

 
Well, I stand BOLDLY in front of you tonight with a deep sense of happiness and fulfilment given Botswana's record of five decades of impressive growth and development since independence in 1966.

While we celebrate, it is also important to pay tribute to past leaders of our beloved country for their steadfast devotion to the Republic. This is also a time for us to reflect on our achievements as well as present challenges for this shall define how best we reach the National vision, VISION 2036.

For fellow Batswana here today, His Excellency President Mogweetsi Eric Masisi's independence day message yesterday was clear when he urged us all not to forget the responsibility to protect and jealousy guard our national values and principles that got us where we are. It’s these same attributes that will help us circumnavigate present and future challenges towards a high income country.

Distinguished guests, success is work in progress. We therefore cannot let complacency set in especially in light of the ferocious and persistent challenges of a delayed economic diversification, unemployment, poverty and inequality to mention but a few. By year 2036, we would like to deliver "prosperity for all" led by our own people!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we celebrate here tonight a few days after Heritage Day, a holiday which we all joined in, not because of our love for braai meat, but in recognition of South Africa's diversity and the true meaning of a rainbow Nation.

We are also celebrating this year which marks what would have been Tata Mandela's 100th birthday. This is such an opportune moment indeed to rekindle our common desire to do good, motivated no doubt, by the legacy Mandela left for future generations across the globe.

It is with this understanding and appreciation that President Mokgweetsi Masisi not only participated but delivered a speech at the recently held Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Botswana and South Africa continue to enjoy cordial bilateral and historic relations informed by a common history, geography, linguistic and cultural affinities. Both countries continue to work together to enhance cooperation for the mutual benefit of our people.

Allow me to take this opportunity to dispel a common misperception that Botswana played a minor role in the liberation struggle of the Southern Africa region. I have come to gather that this stems from convictions that Botswana did not adopt a militant stance against Minority regimes or did not allow liberation movements to establish military bases in its territory.

What is a settled fact is that, despite our precarious geopolitical situation arising from being almost entirely surrounded by racist white minority regimes, Botswana was a major freedom fighter destination. As a Member of the OAU,  the Government and the people of Botswana offered a safe haven to freedom fighters who were also facilitated, especially those on the hit-list, to move up to the north to countries like Zambia and Tanzania.

It is also a fact that in the 1960s, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Samora Machel, Sam Nujoma, Robert Mugabe, Jayson Moyo, Joe Slovo amongst others passed through Botswana.

Lastly, despite regular attacks and economic strangulation, Botswana resisted the pressure and even refused to establish diplomatic relations with South Africa. Furthermore, Botswana refused to sign a non-aggression Treaty along the lines of the Nkomati Accord.

With this rich history, I humbly request our Guest of Honour to take the message to the South African Government that perhaps the time is now to instance the Umkhonto We Sizwe project aimed at putting up monuments in places of strategic importance to the struggle particularly along the corridor used through Botswana to Zambia.

Having said that, through the Bi-National Commission mechanism that exists between the two countries, the Heads of State meet once a year to take stock of the Political Committee, Economic Committee, Social Committee and the Defence and Security Committee. The Fifth BNC is expected to be held before the end of 2018 wherein our new Heads of State shall be meeting for the first time in this type of setting.

Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa's post-independence Foreign Policy trajectory has been clear and points to a commitment to promote and achieve the vision of an African Continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, premised on the principles of Pan Africanism and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable through effective multilateralism at the sub-regional (SADC), regional (AU) and global level (UN).

It is with this fundamental principle that binds us all that we are confident South Africa shall funnel the continent's views into the on-going process to strengthen multilateralism and the principle of sovereign equality among states especially in an unpredictable and unstable global environment. I wish therefore to congratulate South Africa for being elected to serve as a Non-Permanent Member of the UNSC.

With these few remarks, I wish to thank the Chief Guest, other VVIPs, the sponsors, Leriba Hotel, Diplomatic Police and my Team of course for putting such a wonderful function together. I also want to thank the exhibitors and the traditional dance troupe for coming all the way from Botswana to come and celebrate with us.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to share with you all that this is the last Independence Day celebration I shall be hosting in my capacity as Botswana Envoy to South Africa. I want to thank the host and fellow colleagues including the private sector for making my four years here very enriching, productive and definitely career enhancing.

In conclusion, I would like to propose a toast


        To the good health of President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Mokgweetsi Masisi

        To the prosperity of our two countries

        God bless you all, God Bless South Africa, God Bless Botswana

PULA PULA PULA

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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October 2018

 
 
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