Why Botswana's president snubs AU meetings
Posted Friday, March 22 2013 at 12:01
Botswana’s Defence minister Ramadeluka Seretse has defended President Ian Khama's snubbing of the African Union (AU) summits saying the heads of state has other obligations.
Of the 12 AU summits, considered important on the calendar of many heads of state, President Khama is yet to attend any since 2009.
He is now in his fifth year as president of Botswana.
Last year, the Botswana leader was also not at the Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries.
Late last month, President Khama told a South African daily: “You are given seven to ten minutes to speak and then you come back home and you say it is worth flying all the way and spending all that money for seven minutes.”
He further queried: “Is it going to make a difference?”
“And with all those heads of state speaking, who is listening at the end of the day?”
And this week, Mr Seretse went on to defend the Botswana leader saying the president was unable to attend because of equally important local commitments.
“There is always a conscious decision to balance his internal and external commitments. In his absence, Botswana is always ably represented at the highest level either by the Vice-President or cabinet ministers,” Mr Seretse said.
According to Mr Seretse, President Khama attended only three out of seven Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summits and three out of its four ordinary meetings since 2009.
President Khama usually makes an exception for the annual summit of the SADC in Gaborone and singles out its agenda to be directly affecting Botswana.
The opposition questioned whether that would not result in other countries viewing Botswana as an uncooperative nation that takes others for granted.