Connect with us

Support The NewsHawks


While Zim quarrels with Zambia…

AT a time when there are serious growing  concerns by Zimbabwean leaders about southern Africa becoming a theatre of geopolitical manoeuvres between global powers



US-Botswana deepen ties


AT a time when there are serious growing  concerns by Zimbabwean leaders about southern Africa becoming a theatre of geopolitical manoeuvres between global powers polarising relations in the region, Botswana — the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) headquarters — is deepening its ties with the United States, considered an enemy in Harare.

The US is also strengthening its diplomatic relations with Zambia to the north, something which has triggered a row between Harare and Lusaka.

This followed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s complaints about Zambia and its relations with the US to Russian President Vladimir Putin early last month in St Petersburg.

Zimbabwe closely works with China and Russia.  Mnangagwa, his wife and nine others, as well as three entities, are under American sanctions over governance, human rights and corruption issues.

Zambia reacted angrily to Mnangagwa’s remarks, with Foreign Affairs minister Mulambo Haimbe describing them in Parliament as an “unwarranted attack on Zambian sovereignty”.

While Zimbabwe and Zambia clash over the issue of relations with global powers, Botswana is consolidating its relations with the US.

Last week, Gaborone hosted the US Africa Command (Africom) African Defence Chiefs Conference, in a public display of its strategic partnership with Washington.

The US and Botswana armies are also preparing for more military drills soon to strengthen their alliance to deal with humanitarian and security-related issues, including threats in the region.

In 2008, Botswana moved to ask the US for sophisticated military equipment, including defence systems and helicopter gunships, as it sought to strengthen their  existing bilateral security cooperation due to heightened diplomatic tensions between Gaborone and Harare under Ian Khama and the late former president Robert Mugabe respectively,  according to evidence provided through WikiLeaks.

This came as Botswana’s intelligence had detected movement of Zimbabwean security forces at the border in the southwestern areas of its neighbour.

Apart from Botswana and Zambia, the US has good relations with Mozambique, another Zimbabwean neighbour to the east.

The only Zimbabwean neighbour with rocky diplomatic relations with the US is South Africa, which, like Harare, is closer to Russia and China.

South Africa is the regional superpower.

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee’s 2023 annual report shows a major rise in South African defence exports, which totalled R7.1 billion  for the previous year calender, up from R4.6 billion in 2022.

Yet Botswana shares close economic and cultural ties with neighboring South Africa, its largest trading partner and a source of employment for many Batswana.

Botswana also maintains friendly relations with China, which regularly provides loans, mostly for infrastructure or housing, and varied development grants, according to a US congressional research service paper.

Botswana has installed Chinese firm-supplied “safe cities” infrastructure, including surveillance technology. 

Huawei has a training agreement with Botswana’s government.

A 2022 Afrobarometer survey found that

Botswana was among the few African countries in which respondents ranked China more favourably as a developmental partner and positive influence than the US, albeit by relatively small margins.

The world’s number two diamond producer after Russia, Botswana could gain market share as a result of G7 sanctions on Russian diamonds.

Batswana officials, however, have expressed opposition to these G7 measures over concerns that they were imposed without adequate consultation with Botswana; could increase the cost of Batswana diamonds; and might undermine Botswana’s diamond processing industry by requiring certain diamonds be routed through Europe.

Botswana voted to condemn Russia’s 2022 expansion of its war of aggression on Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly, but abstained from later votes on Russia’s actions.

Botswana contributed to the multi-dimensional Sadc Mission in Mozambique, a military-civilian mission to combat an Islamic State terrorist insurgency in northern Mozambique, a US-supported goal.

Botswana opposed a 2021 African Union decision to grant Israel AU observer status.

After Hamas’s October 2023 attacks on Israel and Israel’s subsequent military
operation in Gaza, Botswana voted in favour of UN General Assembly resolutions in 2023 calling for a “humanitarian truce” and a“humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip.

The US State Department views bilateral ties as “strong and grounded in a shared commitment to good governance and inclusion.”

Botswana hosts a US Agency for Global Media broadcasting station, a US regional C-12 transport aircraft, and a US-funded International Law Enforcement Academy, which trains selected police from across Africa, the congressional paper says.

Last week, Botswana co-hosted with the US-facilitated African Chiefs of Defence Conference.
US bilateral aid for Botswana administered by the State Department and US Agency for International Development totalled US$52.4 million in full-year 2023 (most recent full-year data), with $50.6 million requested for FY2025.

Such aid has been devoted almost entirely to PEPFAR, apart from a US International Military Education and Training programme.

Botswana, which also benefits from US global or regional programmes, participates in initiatives such as Prosper Africa, a trade and investment effort, and the Young African Leaders Initiative.

A minor bilateral US trading partner, Botswana is eligible for US duty-free African Growth and Opportunity Act trade benefits, though its AGOA-eligible exports annually averaged a low 0.6% of its total exports to the US, 2014-2023.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *