Diplomatic disaster!

Daniel Chida
Mokgweetsi Masisi

AfriForum engagement causes SA/Bots relationship concern

The Botswana government’s decision to engage AfriForum lawyer Gerrie Nel has been widely slammed as a diplomatic blunder with potentially disastrous ramifications for the country.

AfriForum is a South African non-governmental organisation primarily focused on protecting the rights of Afrikaners.

Many feel the institution has deep racist undertones, hence the shock – and indeed widespread condemnation – at government’s determination to seek AfriForum’s help in the Bank of Botswana fraud and money-laundering saga.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engaged different leaders and analysts to get their views on the potential rift this could cause between the two countries.

For once, everyone was in agreement!

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Biggie Butale – Botswana Patriotic Front, President.

The SA Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, in describing the Botswana Government’s actions said, “To the best of our knowledge this is unprecedented,” and I agree with him.

A senior official in the Foreign Affairs Ministry said SA did not take kindly to the Masisi Government working with an organisation they considered anti Government.

Clearly, the step to acquire the services of AfriForum has resulted in diplomatic tensions between SA and Botswana.

The effect of these tensions will manifest in a lackluster effort on the SA Gov to resolve our fuel and electricity crisis.

Should Botswana hang tough and refuse to apologise, I see petrol and electricity becoming luxuries in the not-so-distant future.

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Depending on how long the diplomatic gaffe remains unresolved, Botswana’s economy will plunge deeper into recession resulting in job losses and depreciation of the Pula.

This could prove to be Botswana’s worst diplomatic gaffe in a century!

Motsumi Marobela – Political Analyst

Sadly, our long-term cherished brotherhood with South Africa has been dented by narrow political infights within the ruling party.

The engagement of AfriForum by the Botswana government is a strategic blunder, which has the potential to compromise the long term social and diplomatic relations with South Africa – a regional economic and geopolitical power.

With AfriForum, the Masisi regime has not only annoyed the ANC, but core alliance partners of the liberation struggle who abhor Afrikaner domination and the apartheid which caused the suffering of so many South Africans.

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There might be far-reaching consequences for both countries, not least for Batswana, as we depend wholly on South Africa for many essential commodities.

Cyril Ramaphosa

The current petrol crisis is just the beginning of the possible ramifications of the seeds of the diplomatic fallout from forging a united front with a right-wing racist organisation to spar with the neighbour, instead of using more peaceful diplomatic mediatory channels.

The government collusion with AfriForum is suspicious and I strongly dispute the fact that other than AfriForum there are no objective professional lawyers who could have been assigned the case. Why AfriForum?

Sennye Obuseng – Political Analyst

We cannot afford to be seen to be insensitive to political dynamics in RSA. The black majority, and certainly the ANC, will not understand why we eschewed normal diplomatic channels and ran to an organisation they deem racist to have our issues addressed.

In any case, the investigation starts with an awkward situation in which Bank of Botswana, the alleged victim, says it has not lost P100 billion. It’s a messy affair.

Moeti Mohwasa – Umbrella for Democratic Change, Head of Communications

Our honest position is that the Botswana government committed a diplomatic gaffe by engaging Afriforum.

This will have negative implications on what has been an almost orderly and neighbourly relationship.

Afriforum, by all intents and purposes, is a racial grouping that no country that takes itself seriously should associate with.

We do not condone corruption but in our fight against it we should be principled, fair, calculative, and objective and be careful who we work with.

This Marchiavelian approach to issues will not assist us. This is yet another instance that confirms that we have a government that is reckless and lacks maturity.

This should not in any way be misconstrued as suggesting that anyone cannot be investigated. Such an investigation should be done in an orderly and just manner

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