The spiritual leader of Tibet Dalai Lama will not be allowed in Botswana anymore. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Gaeimelwe Goitsemang said this when answering a question on Tuesday at the Public Accounts Committee meeting.
PAC member Prince Maele wanted to know if Botswana has a foreign policy and what values is it predicated on, in light of the mixed signals conveyed by the recent visit to China by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and last year’s refusal of Dalai Lama to visit Botswana.
Goitsemang said a foreign policy ideally should be informed by the country’s national interests which should be defined over time.
In Botswana our national interests are contained in Vision 2036, which is a blueprint for the country’s vision to become an upper middle income country.He said that there is no country that practises ethical foreign policy, because a foreign policy is always a hybrid of national interests and principles that a country espouses or envisages.
He said that Botswana believes that in whatever we do, we should not antagonise our interests as a nation and also in dealing with other nations, we should be sensitive to protect our interests and derive value from the relationship. He explained that in foreign policy, the chief diplomat is the head of state hence under international law whatever statement is made by the head of state reflects the foreign policy of a country.
Historically, Botswana’s foreign policy has always been guided by principles, but what will differ is the posture of the head of state at any given time. He said that posture speaks to approach. For example, in one instance the approach could be to engage and in another to refrain from pronouncing a position on a given issue.
As for China, he said it was true they have just returned from the Asian giant, which they consider as “our strategic partner in development” pointing to the opportunities that can be derived from there. PAC chairman Abraham Kesupile wanted to know what has changed in our foreign policy to which Goitsemang cited the approach. “Like I said the end of the day it is a question of who is the head of state as he is the one who gives direction. So for us as the ministry, we are implementers”.
Would the Dalai Lama be allowed to enter Botswana if he wished to come here like before? Goitsemang reiterated the One China Policy that regards Tibet and Taiwan as part of China, saying Botswana fully subscribes to this longstanding policy. “So the issue of Dalai Lama coming here being recognised as the leader of Tibet, it can’t work,” said Goitsemang.