Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hillary Clinton does it again for Botswana

source: Republic of Botswana (23/10/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 26 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline with Delivery”


Botswana’s mature democracy, rule of law, and prudent financial management continues to attract positive attention worldwide. Recently, the 2009 Mo Ibrahim Foundation ranked Botswana 4 out of 53 countries with a total score of 73.6% (2 out of 12 South African countries). The category score was based on ‘safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development’. Further, the annual Fraser Foundation/Heritage foundation “2009 Index of World Freedom” placed Botswana 34 in the world and 2nd in Africa as well as the Sub-Saharan Africa region with an overall score of 69.7, which is up by 1.5 over last year’s score.

This is despite a publication by Benchmark Foundation laying claim to a conflict of interest between the Government and DeBeers Corporation, as well as the negative impact of mining on indigenous peoples. The Bench Mark Foundation report has been dismissed as flawed because the methodological underpinning fails the reliability and validity tests. The body of the text is riddled with factual inaccuracies, the glaring being an assertion by Benchmarks Foundation that in their research they interacted with Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FEF).

To the contrary, FEF Office in South Africa was only asked to assist with e-mail addresses and contact persons of Debswana, Botswana Federation of Trade Unions and Botswana Mine Workers Union. According to FEF, “This was the only occasion FEF was involved in this matter and since then there were no interactions and no meetings between FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) and Bench Marks Foundation. Therefore we were not at all involved in the production of the research”, notes the Resident Representative of FEF Botswana Office.

In her tour of Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton singled out Botswana as a shining example of democracy. She further went on to praise Botswana for its prudent financial management and for making the most out of diamonds for development.

Recently (October 1st) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the 7th Biennial Business Summit of the Corporate Council for Africa cited Botswana’s prudent management of its natural resources, in the context of diamond mining. She noted as follows:

“It is a painful truth; through colonialism and post-colonialism, the continent’s riches have too often gone to the few, not he many. But Africa itself hold an example that I would recommend to all of you – those of you in government and those of you in business – and that is the arrangement in Botswana for the mining and marketing of their diamonds with De Beers. The government of Botswana in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, post-independence, was so visionary. The leadership there was so devoted to building a country that would have the advantages that they wanted to see for their people after colonialism and finally ended. So they struck a hard bargain, and they created, essentially, a trust fund where a percentage of the revenues from the diamonds went into that fund, and then that fund was used to pave the roads. And if you’ve travelled in Botswana, you know that the roads are the best in Sub-Saharan Africa except for South Africa. And we can see the results year after year after year. I got a letter the other day from the chairman, Mr. Oppenheimer, of De Beers saying, “Thank you for mentioning our relationship with Botswana. It has created a stable, successful environment for us to business in.” Yes, you could have had short-term profits at the expense of long-term profitability. But instead, a different bargain was struck. I commend that example to all of you.

In light of such commendation, Batswana must be proud of their government and of themselves as a nation since they are active participants in development. We should therefore work at reinforcing and building on the strong foundation that our forefathers have laid.

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