Monkey see, monkey do ian khama

endeavour at variance with the spirit of Pan African solidarity.

This was because in tearing my contract with the University of Botswana, and my work and residence permits, Khama acted on the basis of my inclusion on the EU sanctions list in July that year. This position was quite surprising given that Botswana is a member of the African Union and not the EU and, as such, was not duty-bound to implement EU decisions.

Well, one would have thought that deporting a mere media practitioner was an unfortunate incident that emanated from political naivete on Khama’s part since he was basically new to Botswana’s highest office. But, alas, as those of old put it, a bird will always sing the same song.
Botswana was recently embroiled in a major diplomatic row with Kenya after announcing that it would impose sanctions on Kenya for electing Uhuru Kenyatta the country’s fourth president.

Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani cited Kenyatta’s indictment by the ICC as the reason for the proposed sanctions.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read Phandu Skelemani’s comments given that his boss, Khama, was himself never subjected to the kind of universal suffrage that Kenyatta was recently subjected to since succeeding Festus Mogae on April 1 2008.

Skelemani was quoted as saying, ‘‘Kenyatta would not be allowed to ‘set foot’ in Botswana if he refuses to co-operate with the ICC.
“If he refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You can’t establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you,” he charged.

It was lost on Phandu Skelemani that Kenyatta had always co-operated with ICC proceedings and attended preliminary hearings in The Hague in April 2011 and confirmation of charges hearings in September the same year. In fact, Kenyatta committed himself to attend all future hearings because, up to December 22 2010, Kenya was a state party to the Rome Statute.

The country’s National Assembly, however, voted to rescind Kenya’s membership.
Kenya government spokesman Muthui Kariuki reminded Skelemani that his country was aware of its international obligations and would not be bullied by the likes of Botswana.

“The government finds the statement contemptuous. Mr Kenyatta has been accused, but he is not guilty until proven otherwise. In fact, he has always attended ICC sessions without fail and is on record saying he would continue to do so,” Kariuki said.

As a lawyer, Phandu Skelemani should know the principle of the presumption of innocence. Kenyatta is innocent until proven guilty.
The case against Kenyatta is still in court. By shooting his mouth off like that, Phandu arrogated himself the roles of judge and jury.

What is more, the African Union has made it clear that it does not recognise the ICC.
This is why Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is free to sit in AU councils. While in terms of the UN charter all countries are equal, in reality Botswana’s ambition to sanction Kenya can be equated to as outrageous an ambition as an ant climbing the back of an elephant with the intention of rape.

One didn’t have to look far to see whose words Phandu Skelemani was parroting because just a month before Kenya’s elections US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson warned Kenyans of ‘‘consequences’’ if they voted for Kenyatta citing the ICC indictment.  Phandu was, however, forced to eat humble pie, saying: ‘‘I apologise to the Kenyan people for my earlier statement and wish to maintain that Kenya and Botswana have always worked together and nothing will change that. Mr Uhuru Kenyatta is more than welcome to visit Botswana. Botswana is cognisant of a section of the law that says one is innocent until proven guilty.”

Aha! A Damascene moment? Not really, Phandu is a lawyer. He knows the presumption of innocence. His gaffe emanated from a propensity for politics of Western appeasement, which is one of the most dangerous cancers afflicting the generation of leaders who took over from the illustrious class of founding fathers.

And it is that same spirit of Western appeasement that saw Malawi President Joyce Banda auction her country’s presidential jet in a bid to please Western donors, many of whom use private jets anyway.

Today Mrs Banda is a virtual commuter who has to ask for transport from host countries whenever invitations arrive at her office because chartering a plane is proving more expensive than maintaining the jet she auctioned off. The Malawi leader was recently left with egg on the face after Botswana turned down her request to hitch a ride in

Khama’s presidential jet to attend a summit for African leaders in the US.
Some sections of Malawi’s media dubbed the incident ‘‘the lowest embarrassment the country has suffered in recent years’’. Mrs Banda, who is set to visit Botswana next Monday, is scheduled to leave for the US after her Gaborone visit.
So what is my point?

My point is African leaders should have minds of their own. They need to put Africa first in all they do.
The AU’s position on the ICC is known and member states should be guided by that continental position.
More so it does nothing for African solidarity for Botswana to host a transmitter for Voice of America’s Studio 7, the pirate station set to broadcast divisive messages into Zimbabwe.

Africa does not benefit from Gaborone’s dalliance with the so-called US Africa Military Command. The new generation of African leaders must invoke the spirit of the founding fathers who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 25 1963 to form the Organisation of African Unity pursuant to establishing a United States of Africa.

After all, in a few weeks’ time, we celebrate 50 years since the formation of the OAU and the pursuit of continental unity. That dream will remain but a mirage, to be pursued but never attained as long as some among us love to ape alien ideologies and positions at variance with Pan African solidarity. Our country has been the bulwark against all forms of neo-colonial encroachment in Southern Africa, we can ill-afford staking our future in a leadership with the monkey-see, monkey-do mentality we see in some African countries today.

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