This week, world leaders will descend on New York to witness three historic events; the adoption of a post 2015 development agenda, the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) (in San Francisco in 1945) and to take part in the 70th UN General Assembly Session.
Once again, Botswana will not be represented by its leader, President Ian Khama. In view of the above, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary caucus wishes to register its concern on President Khama’s continued absence at such crucial events. This continued absence denies our country the opportunity to actively take part in shaping the new world order. The post 2015 development agenda, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be anchored on three pillars: economic, social and environmental. It will speak to five key areas: People; Planet, Prosperity, Partnerships and Peace. As the UDC MPs, we find it incomprehensible how President Khama would not find it necessary to take part in such a historic event; an event that will ushers in the post 2016 development agenda or the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Having signed up to the MDGs, Botswana committed itself to fighting extreme poverty, promoting universal primary education, promoting gender equality, and forging enduring partnerships. Former president, F.G Mogae, joined his counterparts to pledge his government’s commitment to this agenda. Regrettably, President Khama, as usual, will be absent when global leaders meet to share experiences, lessons and views on how to tackle global challenges. These leaders will also map the way forward. As this event coincides with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the formation of the UN, it is an opportune moment for leaders to reflect on its achievements, challenges and milestones reached thus far. The 70th Anniversary of the UN provides an opportunity for the UN member states to exchange notes on the challenges and successes as well as possible solutions to developmental challenges at national and international levels. Botswana could benefit from the experiences of more developed economies. The 67th UN General Assembly noted that “Achieving sustainable development will be the overriding challenge of this century. Throughout most of history, the challenges of integrating economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability were local or regional. In the 21st century, however, they are indisputably global. Only through global cooperation can individual nations overcome the interconnected crises of extreme poverty, economic instability, social inequality and environmental degradation” (UN 2013). It is, therefore, unfortunate that our president, judging from his actions, has a different view about the world order. As is the norm, the UN General Debate grants each leader an opportunity to share his/her country’s views on topical issues. This week, the General Debate will start with Pope Francis’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 25. Thereafter, Heads of States and Governments, Kings and Queens, will come together to sign up to the SDGs. About 170 of them are expected to represent their national interests and append their signatures to this very important process. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, are among the first day’s speakers. Since Botswana will not be represented at the level of president, the Vice President, Masisi, will speak after all Heads of States and government have spoken and most probably when most have left. Masisi will be not occupy the same platforms as Heads of State and governments.
The UDC MPs would like to take this opportunity to appeal to president Khama to reconsider his position and join other leaders at this historic event to ensure that the vision and aspirations of our people form part of the world journey into the future. He should go there and present Botswana’s views on the current and daunting global challenges.
*Phenyo Butale (PHD)
UDC parliamentary Caucus Spokesperson