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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No. 5 of 2011

Botswana and Sweden – A Longstanding Partnership

Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency.

Today H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will be saying goodbye to H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. His Majesty the King was in Botswana this week for a four day State Visit that further cemented the longstanding ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Botswana’s bilateral relationship with Sweden has been forged by shared values of democracy and social justice, which has been a basis for the generous developmental support extended by the Swedes to our country.

The legacy of this generosity was summed up by His Excellency during Tuesday’s State Luncheon:

“Let me take this opportunity Your Majesty, to express our profound appreciation to the Government and people of Sweden for the invaluable support they have availed to this country over the years.  Without Swedish assistance in a number of fields, Botswana could not have made the developmental strides that it has achieved to date.  Special mention should be made of the pivotal role that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) played, and continues to play, in administering many of the development projects and programmes in Botswana.”

The President further noted that last year Botswana and Sweden signed a Strategy for Selective Cooperation as a demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to remain engaged and to explore new avenues of partnership.

For his part, King Carl commended Batswana for the nation’s development from one of the world’s poorest countries to middle income status, further praising the country’s “unique democratic traditions”.

In 2006 the King attended a Seminar on Democracy in Botswana at the Nordic Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, where then President Mogae spoke of Botswana being an indigenous, as well as constitutional, democracy in the context of culturally embedded expectations of consultation and mutual respect. As evidence of this he cited the Swedish trader Charles Andersson’s 1856 observation of the then Batawana “King” Letsholathe:

“His power, though very great, and in some instances despotic, is nevertheless, controlled by senior chiefs, who, in their pitshos, their parliament, or public meetings, use the greatest plainness of speech in exposing what they consider culpable or lax in his government. An able speaker will sometimes turn the scale even against the king. These assemblies keep up a tolerable equilibrium of power between the chiefs and their king, but they are only convened when it is necessary to adjust differences between tribes...”

For his part, the Swedish King also paid special tribute to the democratic leadership of nation’s first President, Sir Seretse Khama, whose 1970 visit to Sweden laid the foundation today’s special relationship; whose relevance was reaffirmed by this week’s signing of three new Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field’s of development, energy and environment.     

It was also observed that King Carl had previously come to Botswana back in 1976, while on his honeymoon. In this respect his partner, H.M. Queen Silvia, has also been expected this week, but was unable to come on short notice due to personal circumstance.

The luncheon also attracted global headlines arising from the President’s comments on ongoing developments on the continent, more especially Libya:

“The African continent still has a few leaders who oppress and brutalize their citizens to satisfy their own lust for power and greed. Let us hope that we will rid ourselves of such leaders sooner rather than later in order for there to be long lasting and meaningful development as aspired for by all the continents people. As for the on-going situation in Libya, the UNSC Resolution 1973 is well intended and should be supported by all states. Whether countries support or not the on-going military intervention in that country following on from the UN Resolution, the fact is that such action is underway and the least we can hope for from this intervention is the intended protection from brutality leading to death in many cases of Libyan citizens opposed to Gaddafi and his dictatorship, and the most we can hope for, even if not directly intended, is regime change brought about by the people of Libya themselves, that will usher in a truly democratic dispensation.”

Last Friday, His Excellency also met with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsviangirai, who briefed the President on his concerns about the implementation of the SADC sponsored Global Political Agreement.

Also this week

This week the Acting Vice President, H.H. Ponatshego Kedikilwe was in Cape Town, where he led the Botswana delegation at the Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission, which also brought together delegates from Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa for technical discussions on sharing the common watercourse. The meeting coincided with this year’s World Water Day commemorations.

During the week, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, launched and participated in a project sponsored by Dulux Botswana that over the next three years will give households in Old Naledi the opportunity to be painted in a colour of their choice.

Yesterday, the Honourable Minister was also the Guest of Honour at the World TB Day commemoration, which was held at OLD Naledi.


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