Some Batswana living in the United Kingdom have expressed disappointment at what they say is the poor service they receive at the Botswana High Commission as well as lack of trust between them and the diplomatic office.
Going by the name Re Batswana Mo UK, the community is particularly decrying lack of information on preparations for BOT50 celebration and has since petitioned Roy Blackbeard, the Botswana High Commissioner in the country.
In their petition letter of 20th September 2016, they express their disappointment at the “poor service we receive from Botswana High Commission. UK Batswana are frustrated because of lack of relationship and trust between the Botswana High Commission and UK Batswana community.”
They say that they had requested that independence celebrations be postponed to 1st October since September 30 would not be a holiday in the UK. “Most UK’s Batswana community work on Fridays and the kids attend schools on Fridays as well. So, we are going to be denied a right to take our kids to 50 anniversary independence celebrations,” they said. They also state that the formal celebrations were only by invite, with no children allowed.
“Most of UK Batswana community are disappointed because they have sent emails to the Botswana High Commission in order to be invited as required by the Botswana High Commission but so far no one received response from the Botswana High Commission as it was promised,” the petition reads in part.
They also raised complaints about the 5 star hotel in Central London where the celebrations are going to be held, saying it was a “waste Batswana’s taxes”. They argue that parks, churches, car parks or the High Commissioner’s residence would have been more frugal choices and would have created an open ambience reminiscent of Botswana where celebrations are fun and open to everyone without restrictions and inhibitions.
Due to the frosty relationship between the UK High Commission and Batswana in the UK, some sources say BOT50 is just another occasion which will add to the already tense situation. The High Commission is said to be so inattentive of people’s needs that none of its staff show face, even during such tragedies as bereavement.
“Batswana in UK and the High Commission leave in different worlds; we are both representing a foreign country but there is no synergy whatsoever. Some of us here have had deaths of loved ones, where the body would have to be repatriated, but they do not come, it’s just the community supporting each other without the High Commission,” one source stated. There are growing calls in the UK, of Batswana asking for Blackbeard to be recalled, with similar questions raised in parliament about his 20-year old interrupted deployment as High Commissioner.
Efforts to solicit a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were futile even after the ministry profusely promised to respond before press time. This publication had also sent a questionnaire to the Botswana High Commission in UK last Wednesday, who, this publication was notified, referred questions to the ministry.