Botswana sets standard for good governance in Africa

Sir Seretse Khama, first President of Botswana, who held the office from 1966 to 1980
Sir Seretse Khama, first President of Botswana, who held the office from 1966 to 1980

The News Letter editorial (‘It will be tragic if South Africa slides into a Zimbabwean situation,’ Oct 31) is factually correct and exactly right in its conclusions.

I lived in Central and Southern Africa from 1965 to 1972. I witnessed the excesses of apartheid and was a frequent visitor to Rhodesia (as it then was ) just before Ian Smith declared UDI.

I remember sitting on the stoep of a white rancher’s homestead discussing his fears for the future. He described how he arrived in Rhodesia as a settler after the Second World War, having served in the RAF and had done his flight training there because of the favourable weather.

He purchased a modest piece of land, cleared the bush, dug irrigation ditches, planted and harvested wheat.

He provided employment for the local Mashona, his wife ran a health clinic and taught the farm labourers’ children in the corner of a barn.

What pained them most was to be branded ‘racist’ by leftist British political commentators.

To the west of Zimbabwe lies Botswana, where I lived for three years. Botswana is the paradigm for the Republic of South Africa to follow (though this is unlikely).

Sir Seretse Khama ,the first president (pictured left), was one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met.

I was on the committee of the Gaborone Club and organised the bar and dining arrangements.

Every Saturday Sir Seretse would drive to the club in a small family car without bodyguards to play bowls. He would greet everyone by Christian name and his powerful charisma dominated every room he entered. After a match he would sit on the stoep, drinking tea or water, enjoying the banter with the other players.

Botswana is a wonderful country and an outstanding example of good governance for the whole of the African continent.

George McNally, Limavady Road, Londonderry