The Member of Parliament (MP) for Maun East constituency, Konstantinos Markus has accused the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) legislator Dithapelo Keorapetse of racism.
Markus is a mixed-race Motswana of Greek descent.
The BDP backbencher blew his gasket when Keorapetse advocated on the floor of Parliament that government must be biased towards indigenous Batswana because even though Parliament has passed a policy on Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE), it is however not backed by law.
Stated Markus: “This man is a racist. He cannot stand here and say only black people are Batswana, what does he have to say about me? He is becoming a racist. I want him to explain that aspect and state that when he looks at me, am I not a Motswana?” Markus shot forth.
Markus was then restrained by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Kagiso Molatlhegi who noted: “Just steer clear off the issue of race. You appear to want to dig up old wounds. Just desist from those issues”.
Keorapetse in his statement accused naturalized citizens of being unpatriotic and wielding their identity cards for purposes of self-enrichment without iota of interest to develop the country.
“When we say citizens, let us also consider citizens as in the black people, black Batswana not naturalized citizens.
“Not people who are unpatriotic who only have Omang as a licence to be rich. The Omang card Honourable (Edwin) Batshu, to many naturalized citizens, is just a licence to riches. They have got absolutely no interest in developing this country because you have liberalized finance,” Keorapetse noted.
He further invoked CEE as it is in South Africa, where the Black Economic Empowerment law was passed to assist the social upward mobility of previously disadvantaged people.
The embattled Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang responded stating that Botswana is known to be non-racist as a society.
“Now when you make reference to naturalized Batswana as not being patriotic or that we should discriminate against them, that goes against the principles of our founding fathers,” Kebonang lobbed an accusation.
He also said the definition of ‘black’ in South Africa in terms of their Act, includes the Chinese and Indians who were not previously disadvantaged.
Keorapetse responded: “In our case, who does not know that the people you have just referred to are more advantaged? They are the ones who are driving top of the range cars and owning beautiful houses when we black Batswana are on the fringes”.