THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA
WORLD CONFERENCE ON RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
AND RELATED INTOLERANCE
BY THE MINISTER OF PRESIDENTIAL
AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND LEADER OF DELEGATION
THEBE D. MOGAMI
, SOUTH AFRICA, 4th
Let me start by conveying
the condolences from the Government and the people of Botswana to President
Mbeki, his family, and the Government and people of South Africa on the passing
on, of the gallant son of Africa, liberator and educator, Govan Mbeki.
2. Let me also take this
opportunity to thank you and congratulate you on your election as the President
of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance. Madam, you also deserve commendation for getting this important
and difficult Conference off to a good start, as well as for the manner in which
you are steadfastly steering our deliberations.
3. Allow me also to express
my gratitude to the Government and the people of South Africa for the hospitality
that has been extended to my delegation and the impressive arrangements that
have been put in place for this landmark Conference.
4. I should also like to
congratulate High Commissioner Robinson for the diplomatic skills and positive
energy,, which she commandeered to garner support and commitment for this Conference.
The fact that we have all been able to converge in the coastal city of Durban,
in a country, which not
long ago was reeling from the effects of injustices perpetrated by racism and racial discrimination, is an achievement for humanity.
5. The end of the cold
war and the arrival of the 21st century as well as the end of apartheid and
institutionalised racism, provide an opportunity for re-examination and reflection
by all members of the human race, and different societies; in the way we relate
to one another. Although the offensive statutes relating to institutionalized
racism have been repealed from the law books, the feelings and practices of
racial hatred and racial discrimination remain pervasive in the minds and behaviour
of some peoples the world over. The resurgence of racial superiority, ethnicity
and other forms of intolerance and the perpetration of these evils through literature
and information technology should be considered as a serious threat to the relative
peace and stability, which the world has so far enjoyed since the last world
6. Madam President,
The world community should
send a strong message at this Conference that it is not only awake to the evils
of racism, racialism, xenophobia and related intolerance but that it will do
whatever is possible in terms of education, sensitization, information, legislation
and other means to eliminate it from our actions, behaviour and if possible
from our collective psyche and relegate it to the dustbin of shameful legacy
of the past century.
Durban provides an opportunity and challenge for all of us to bequeath the new generation a better world than we inherited. It implores all of us to work with unity of purpose and determination, and come up with meaningful resolutions and programmes which will make a difference. The past injustices and their drastic consequences should be acknowledged and be truly repented by the perpetrators. Consequently, there should be a genuine and concerted effort to address and redress the imbalances brought about by these injustices.
No-one can deny that sla
very, transatlantic slave trade and colonialism were an abomination and a crime
against humanity which brought about immense suffering, particularly to Africans
and African descendants. It is therefore, our moral responsibility that at this
Conference, time and collective intellectual energy should be galvanized towards
finding lasting solutions and fitting measures to tackle these imbalances head
on. There are more issues on which we agree than those on which we disagree.
Durban should provide a magnet that unites humanity and not create divisions.
7. Madam President,
Botswana has enshrined,
in its Constitution, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.
Every Motswana, irrespective of race, colour, religion, gender, political opinion
or place of origin is protected by the Constitution and guaranteed these rights
and freedoms. The Constitution further ensures that the enjoyment of these rights
and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of
others or the public interest.
The World Conference Against Racism addresses issues which are embodied not only in the language of the Constitution of Botswana and other forms of legislations but also in the daily lives of an average Botswana citizen.
8. There is a conscious
effort on the part of Government and the Private Sector to mainstream gender
in all aspects of development, with a view to removing all obstacles in terms
of law and practice which discriminate against women and children.
9. There are also programmes
for the elderly, the handicapped and destitutes which are accommodated within
the country's limited resources.
10. Madam President,
As a country, Botswana
has been blessed by the accident of history in that it has always enjoyed racial
harmony and tolerance amongst all its people, despite having on its fringes,
regimes which practiced racial discrimination and racial segregation. We have
also managed to emphasize values and aspirations which unite us as a nation
than dwell on those that divide us. Botswana encourages the promotion and infusion
of different cultures through language, music, dance, dress and cuisine in its
11. Botswana has also adopted
a national youth policy which is aimed at recognizing the contribution of the
youth in the country's national development and encourages them to participate
in wider aspects of the economy. The policy is elaborated in a Youth Plan of
Action which seeks to develop a generation of youth whose moral stature,, needs
and aspirations are in line with the national vision and also aims at alleviating
poverty through the involvement and engagement of the youth.
12. Madam President,
In our country there are
several minorities made up of foreign residents, refugees, immigrants and settlers
who have been integrated in the mainstream of the Botswana's society and are
making meaningful contribution in all aspects of the country's economy.
13. The Botswana society
has also a wealth of ethnic minorities, who enrich the culture and traditions
of the nation of Botswana. Among this mosaic we have the Basarwa. These people,
because of the uniqueness of their culture and lifestyle, have attracted the
interest and attention of anthropologists, the international community and the
media, particularly in the run-up to this Conference.
14. Basarwa are an ethnic
group, who form an integral part of the Botswana nation and population. They
are found throughout the region of Southern Africa. In Botswana, about 26, 000
Basarwa are scattered throughout; various parts of the country. The majority
of Basarwa have been integrated in the mainstream of the Botswana society.
15. Madam President,
If we believe in the tenets
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that "all people are born
free and equal"! we are even more convinced that Basarwa should not be
denied the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the natural and national resources
which are enjoyed by the majority of Botswana. This conviction through constructive
actions, is showing positive results. There are now Basarwa children who have
acquired education from primary school through to university and are working
and contributing to the various sectors of our economy, including working directly
with their own communities. Some are members of the NGO delegation to this historic
16. Botswana Government
encourages all its citizens to take advantage of various programmes which are
designed to uplift living standards and to join the mainstream of the Botswana.
The most effective and practical way of achieving this is to encourage those
of our citizens, who live in remote and sparsely populated areas, to relocate
closer to places where facilities can be availed to them, in a cost effective
manner or to where facilities already exist.
17. Turning back to the
main theme of the Conference, let me conclude by reaffirming my country's commitment
to the resolutions that will emerge from this Conference and which will be designed
to mobilize the world opinion against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia
and related intolerance.
18. We wish to urge those
with resources and technological means to lend support, both moral and financial,
towards all the programmes and projects which aim to reverse the effects of
racism and racial discrimination emanating from the effects of slavery, colonialism
and racial discrimination. It is only when we are magnanimous and honourable
enough to acknowledge the tragic consequences of history, that true reconciliation
and genuine healing can be realized. We owe it to future generations We owe
it to humanity.
19. We extend our support
and render commitment to the African Union and all the initiatives which have
been adopted to address the imbalances, the majority of which are due to the
tragic consequences of past legacies.
20. We urge the international
community to raise its collective moral conscience and act decisively to stamp
out the evil consequences of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance. Let the name Durban be synonymous with the names of other historic
cities that made a difference to humanity.
21. I thank you for your