Dr Sebastian Okello-Wengi has been appointed Uganda's first Honorary Consul in Botswana.
Okello-Wengi was installed on Sunday in Gaborone at a ceremony attended by Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa, his Botswana counterpart Phandu Skelemani and other dignitaries.
During the ceremony, Skelemani said the establishment of the Uganda Consulate in Botswana should facilitate people-to-people interaction between the two countries. The minister urged the new consulate to intensify cooperation between the two countries in trade and economic spheres. "This is a day that should be remembered. Consul, please tell (Batswana) how to get (trading) licences in Uganda. He (Consul) cannot say 'no...no... I stamp passports'," Skelemani said. He hopes that the Consulate will become a fully-fledged High Commission.
In his speech, Okello-Wengi said the establishment of the office of Honorary Consul in Botswana will promote and encourage a cooperative relationship between the two countries. "Indeed, in my view, this is true and I believe it will also strengthen the already existing relationship between the peoples of Botswana and Uganda," he added.
Okello-Wengi revealed that statistics show that in the 250 to 300 Ugandan families living in Botswana, about 20 have either a Botswana citizen as a husband or wife. "These social and legal arrangements are already platforms for (a) permanent
Okello-Wengi will work under the Pretoria-based Uganda's High Commissioner to southern Africa, Kweronda Ruhemba, whose jurisdiction covers Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
In his remarks, Kutesa said Uganda and Botswana have a long history of cooperation at bilateral, continental and international levels. He said the establishment of the Consulate will support and complement the work of Uganda's mission in Pretoria. He emphasised that the dynamics of the world situation today has made it easy for the movement of large volumes of goods and services, as well as people. "The number of enterprises that do business across borders is extremely large and the numbers of peoples living and working away from their home countries continues to grow." The Ugandan Honorary Consulate will be at the Red Cross Society of Botswana offices on Plot 135, Independence Avenue, in Gaborone. Other people present at the inauguration were Ruhemba; Botswana's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Outlule, president of the Association of Ugandans living in Botswana, Benjamin Binagwa and secretary general of the Botswana Red Cross Society, Mable Rammekwe.