The Government of Botswana may demand an apology from Zambia for President Michael Sata’s disparaging remarks when he visited that country last week.
The Watchdog understands that MPs in Botswana Tuesday March 27, 2012 raised the issue in the Parliament of Botswana.
The MPs are said to have asked the Speaker to order the government of Botswana to demand any apology from Zambia over Sata’s remarks that Botswana is inferior to Zambia and has only five shops.
The Botswana MPs are incensed by the words uttered by Sata at a meeting with Zambians living in that country.
President Michael Sata is said to have issued the following words:
‘All of you who are here with fake questions am very disappointed with you and embarrassed, are you not even ashamed of yourselves? You ran away from Zambia and thought we couldn’t find you and now today we have caught you. You are refugees in Botswana being exploited by the Botswana Government. You left Zambia to come and work here for an extra K1?’
Sata told Zambian teachers in Botswana that, ‘You are busy educating Tswanas leaving your own relatives in Zambia uneducated and you are proud? All of you were educated by your parents who never even finished standard 7 and struggled to educate you and you run away from them?’
To doctors he said ‘Your relatives are dying in Zambia and you are busy saving Tswana lives?’
Referring to his real mission, Sata said: ‘I came to Botswana to officiate a school which is inferior to our own St Marys!’
He also told accountants and engineers living in Botswana that:
‘Botswana has only 5 shops and you call yourself an accountant when Diamond mines want a consultant they will call a South African and not a Zambian, what are you still doing here?’
‘There are no potholes in Botswana and President Khama has told me that Zambian Engineers designed the roads, when you go to Petauke and Katete there are so many potholes where the same engineers come from. Are you not ashamed of yourselves? Some of your relatives in the villages have never seen a tarred road and you are busy designing Botswana roads? No patriotism at all’
The newspapers in Botswana have been writing about Sata’s visit since then.
One newspaper, the Voice referred to Sata as a loose canon:
The other newspaper in Botswana, the Weekend Post attacked Sata for his lack of diplomacy.
Botswana and Zambia have a long history of bilateral relations. The leadership of the two countries are undoubtedly close to each other because of the history shared by the two nations. This week, Zambian President, Michael Sata, who recently ascended power, visited Botswana at the invitation of President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Usually these state visits are meant to cement bilateral relations. The two leaders have an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern and assess their roles in the global village.
Without doubt this happened hence the two official speeches from the two leaders sent to the media. Certainly no country can survive in isolation hence foreign policies underpin the importance of bilateral relations.
However, we are disturbed by Sata’s unpolished words to Zambian expatriates which he delivered at the meeting he organised on Tuesday. The Zambian President was certainly not joking when he dressed down those doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers.
With all due respect, next time Sata must prepare a speech because he still has to perfect his skills when it comes to delivering a speech from the top of his head.
Definitely what Sata said to those professional is his honest opinion. We argue that he broke all the rules of diplomacy, more so that he was in a foreign land. We expect visiting heads of state to carry themselves in a certain manner, but not the way Sata did when he addressed his countrymen in Gaborone.
Sata is not new to politics and we assume he is conversant with what is expected of a leader. It is embarrassing that he comes to Botswana and starts demeaning its people and achievements.
We do not consider Sata’s provocations to have been jokes because there is no Head of State who will summon over 2000 of his citizens in a foreign country to give them a 30 minutes lecture of ‘jokes’. Surely he meant what he preached on that day.
When he was with President Khama earlier before the address, Sata gave the impression that Botswana and Zambia should foster for oneness and push the agenda of integration. His off the cuff words were parallel to his Tuesday sermon.
Sata becomes upset when he thinks of the Zambians in Botswana because they are being exploited for an extra Kwacha. He will not listen to any of their grievances when they continue to teach Tswanas; design Botswana roads; offer medical care to Batswana while their people are suffering back in Zambia.
If this is the way he understands patriotism, it’s very unfortunate. There is no need to lecture Sata on the benefits of having your citizens selling their skills on the international market and why they did that
Our message to Sata is simply that he must perfect his public speaking and ensure that he puts his messages on the diplomacy path or else he risks being mistaken for a comedian. But our assessment of the speech is that the Zambian President meant exactly what he said, and he was not joking.