tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey WHUT June 3, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> our guest is ambassador tebelelo seretse. she is the ambassador of the republic of botswana to the united states and a foreign minister as well as a former member of parliament. madame ambassador, it is so good to have you here. >> thank you for having me. >> we know so little about africa and about botswana. i want to know. what would amaze people to know about botswana? >> what would amaze people is that botswana is the best managed country on the african
continent and the least corrupt country in terms of democracy for us in botswana. it is part of our culture. doing the things that a democratic state is expected is because it was easy for us because it was already part of our culture. >> part of the culture. reading about botswana, i read about transparency cannot open this, stability, and the least corrupt country in africa. it is part of the culture. >> yes, it is. kgotla system is like an open court. there are disputes that are settled. there is a plaintiff and a
defendant. everyone is allowed to sit in the court, men and women. the chief presides over the kgotla. everyone is allowed to comment about the case. whether it is for the plaintiff or for the defendant. no one can tell you that your point is not important. now we also use it as we continue to use it traditionally for distant resolutions. anybody and everybody can bring a case. now the ministers also used that system. you have education, having a policy in the kgotla.
anybody can stand up and say we do not agree with this policy for the education system. >> does it get messy? >> no, it doesn't. id get very orderly. that is part of the culture to criticize, and to respect somebody. in kgotla, you are allowed to say your different opinion but with respect. >> how is the culture there in botswana, so estimating, how is it so different than in other african countries even in the geographical area in southern africa? >> a lot of them do not have the kgotla. i do not know why botswana has this.
in south africa, they came to botswana and they also develop the house of traditional leader which we call the house of chiefs. that is how traditionally botswana was democratic before it it got its independence. >> it was democratic before it became democratic. is that true? i read it in the 1960's, it was a very poor country. now today, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. >> botswana was the third poorest country in the world before independence in the 1960's. botswana can under the british protection by -- came under
british protection by choice. we went backe 60's, and said we were ready for self- government. we had excellent leaders, compassionate leaders, leaders who cared for the welfare of their people. they gave education the highest priority. >> they say it is a multi-party constitutional democracy. what does that mean in my language? >> that means that if you are a botswana citizen and you want to form a political party, you are loud. the constitution allows you. i think we have about seven parties. two have been dominant.
it gets fragmented by different groups. they are allowed to participate freely in elections. one of the things that interests me in my reading is that the president is indirectly elected. explain that. it is kind of interesting if we use that as our standard here. >> that is correct. the parliamentary system is modeled on the british system. we have what is called constituencies. we have about 57 constituencies. constituencies are represented politically by members of parliament and then by city councils or minus about these -- or municipalities.
during election time, you vote for your council member or your member of parliament. then the member of parliament vote for president. that is the indirect portion of saying the president is indirectly voted upon. every party during the election, there will be who in a particular area will be the one to represent them. same the primaries like you do hear. then they will get signatures of about 50 people to endorse their candidate for the presidency. >> what is the name of the president now? >> [unintelligible] >> and what is his primary goal
right now? >> his primary goal when he came into power, he called the five d's. discipline, delivery, democracy, self-dependency or independent. then he came with the house of excellence. the health hub, education hub, and innovation hub, so driving the country for. what areas do the country need to focus on? isaambassador seretse the ambassador from the republic of botswana. a fascinating opportunity for us to learn about this very, very special country.
"this is america." sit tight. we will be right back. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications. and the american life tv network. >> madame ambassador, let's talk about some of the basics. how big is botswana? >> it is the size of the state of texas. >> ok. >> about 2 million people in
terms of population. our number one revenue is diamonds. >> i want to get to that in a minute. 2 million people. sparsely populated. >> part of the kalahari desert is in botswana. the most pristine tourist area, found in the, is northern part of botswana. a very big tourist attraction. the country is also driving protection of the environment at the same time. lock country.k locd desert is a huge part of it. what is the definition of a delta? >> the rivers come in from all
over and they end in botswana. forming the most beautiful and a spectacular area that you can have. we have all of the animals that you can think of it in the world. >> the capital is what? >> [unintelligible] >> how do you get there? >> you fly to johannesburg. about 15 hours from here. or you can fly from johannesburg straight into the delta. >> it is a long flight and then a short one. you just mentioned animals, but i was thinking of the animals -- this was an amazing thing. half of the population have cattle? >> botswana has more cattle than
people. we have 3 million cattle. >> and 2 million people. >> and 2 million people. if botswana men do not have cattle, society think they are not very dignified because cattle was the measure of wealth traditionally. so the men or the family are judged by how many cattle they have. we export our beer to the european union. we have a very advanced and sophisticated beef producing region. >> does that mean that people are living in rural areas? >> i think 65% to 70% are living
in urban centers and mining towns and in the capital. >> but then do they have their animals someplace else? >> i think that is what impoverishes botswana. on average, a family keeps three homes. they have their home in town with a work, a home with cattle or at the farm, and another home where they plow, the land. >> do you have cattle? >> no, i don't. my family does, but i don't. >> you are the ambassador. somebody has to attend to the -- >> i have sheep. >> you have sheep!
>> i have sheep, goats, and chicken. i am a small farmer. >> is that one of your three homes? >> in the main home. i stay on a little farm. >> what a nice way to go -- i grew up outcountry. >> my family has always been into farming. >> but you are an attorney. how does that happen? >> i started accounting and economics. class of 1978 morgan state university, and then my master's at the university of cincinnati and ohio. after working for about 12 years at home, i went back to the university and then i started practicing as a politician. >> in the government, you have
been the minister of trade and tourism and transportation and some other things as well pay. >> yes, that is correct. i served under the fed president. i worked under the office of the president and acting minister of presidential affairs for public service and the police. then i went as the minister of trade. at that time, it was trade and industry, tourism, and wildlife. now that ministry is two ministries. trade and industry, wildlife, tourism, and what life is another. -- and wildlife is another.
>> are there a lot of self phones there? >> 98%. 1 hopes as we move forward that telephones will be used and cell phones were being used to uplift the lives of the people. >> they use it now for commerce. making deals and things like that. i guess the question is if you have had a wonderful career already. is it tough for a woman to get ahead? >> no, not at all. as a matter of fact, -- just released a study that has shown botswana made 40% up of middle management in the country held by women. we have been doing badly in terms of the number of politicians.
that may be because of a lot of women lose at primary election level. also, the country is vast. the constituencies are very large. to cover a constituency campaigning, sometimes it is very difficult. i used to be a member of parliament in a very large constituency. >> you mentioned the diamonds. minerals are very important to the revenue of the country. diamonds, gold, uranium. >> we do not have uranium. the main product is diamonds by value. a lot of people think it is other countries. our mines -- botswana has its fortune because of diamond
revenues. botswana is the most peaceful country on the african globe. so we are very, very peaceful country and we have used our diamond revenues to give priority to education, to give free health care to our people. our problem, if any, is it too much dependence on government. we have other challenges. but we have managed to read it of corruption. >> you mentioned challenges. water and drought is a big problem. the overuse of the land -- i am not sure what they call that. >> because of drought, there is not so much degradation of the land. farmers are taught to do
rotational farming and grazing, meaning that you plow at some point, give the land a break, and all that. because we've run a very high environmental system, our president was recognized by the iccf for being a leader in the region. >> huge problem however -- i was stunned to read this. h.i.v. 8. >> that is correct. >> a huge infection rate. >> botswana's government took that at a high level to the office of the president. today, botswana is used as a model country to say what should government do for hiv aids?
>> you have many involved. >> the melinda gates foundation. our relationship with the u.s. dates back to 1967 when the country only got its independence in 1966. >> what progress has been made in that area? >> exceptional progress. mother to child transmission has almost been eliminated. testing -- there are testing centers everywhere. above all, education and lack of discrimination. other countries are still struggling with aids discrimination.
we are seeing investments government's making -- so the country has done very well in terms of fighting it. >> at one point, the life expectancy was in the 60's. then it was downed in the 30's. >> now we are looking at the 50's. >> that shows the progress. what has been the relationship between botswana and the united states? >> it has been exceptional. botswana and the united states the date a long time back. we have an enforcement academy which is a partnership between the u.s. government and the botswana government.
and africa and in the region. we have the peace corps which started development when i was a young student at the primary level. i was taught by some of the peace corps people. myself and the current ambassador on a monthly basis, we talk about what is happening in botswana. our relationship -- we are honored by the visit of the first lady. the current secretary of state said let them follow the botswana model. >> when you presented your credentials to president obama, was that exciting? >> that was scary. i was so scared. my knees were wobbly.
president obama talked to me like we went to high school together so that helped me relax. >> we are very proud of him. >> unlike other people who wait months and months, i came on the 14th of february and the 23rd of february and i presented my credentials. >> i bet you made a good impression with him. take a minute and tell me if we were to travel to botswana, what would we do, see, our options, and what would we remember? >> if you were to travel to botswana, my recommendation would be you go to the capital city. most of the time, you form a better impression of the country by looking at its capital city. what we have to offer you is we
have the diamond trading company. you are allowed to go and see the diamonds. we have the mine where you would be allowed to go and see the mine not very far from the city. you have the places where you would see traditional -- to show you part of our culture. from there, we have our museums which you would go around and see. then you would go to the nearby village and see the kgotla in action. any visitor to botswana must go and see the kgotla because that is the foundation of our democracy bain day >> by land or water? >> you can go by land or road to see all the birds in the world
you have never seen. then he will go to the delta. he will see all the animals. you will taste the traditional food and get a boat ride. you will do fishing, but catch and release for conservation. you do all of those sports that you wished to do in the delta and see all of the animals. you can take walks. it does not end there. >> we have to end there. madame ambassador, thank you so much for coming and educating us about botswana. we want to go. >> i am ready to take u. >> thank you, ambassador. >> for information about my new book and online video of all
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