Blackbeard’s long stay in London baffles Mmolotsi

NICHOLAS MOKWENA
Friday, 05 August 2016
Blackbeard’s long stay in London baffles Mmolotsi

Botswana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, is the best performing among the country’s envoys, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has said.

The UK High Commissioner Roy Blackbeard is the only one who has served for long compared to other colleagues. Members of Parliament especially from the opposition have for long questioned the rationale for having Blackbeard serving for more than five years in one place. The answer has always been that he is doing a great job so there is no need to move him from London.

This week Venson-Moitoi reiterated this position stating that there is nothing amiss. “The current High Commissioner in London is deployed where there is need and will be moved according to the exigencies of the service. He has stayed in one place as government remains satisfied with his performance”, the minister told Parliament this week.

She stated that prior to his appointment as High Commissioner, Blackbeard served as minister of Agriculture and was also MP for Serowe North. Quizzed about Blackbeard’s contract, the minister said all the country’s envoys have the same contract of engagement. She said Blackbeard was not given a special contract and is not getting any special treatment. “He is still in London because he was able to ensure that the relationship between us and our counterparts remains strong.

He ensures our programmes run smoothly. Batswana are well served under his leadership and nothing has come forth to suggest that our London office is failing”, she said when responding to a question from MP for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi who wanted to know why Blackbeard has stayed in one place for long and when he would be transferred.

This year marks 18 years of his uninterrupted stay in London since he was appointed High Commissioner in 1998. Opposition parties have for long maintained that Blackbeard had made a deal with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to give up his Parliamentary seat for President Ian Khama. President Khama joined politics from Botswana Defence Force in 1998 the same year Blackbeard dumped his political career. BDP and government has denied that there are ties or a deal that was made for Blackbeard. President Khama went ahead and won the by-election under the BDP ticket.

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