When South African Ambassador to Botswana arrived at the BRICS-organised presentation in Gaborone last week, he couldn’t have expected a tongue-lashing. Ambassador Mdu Lembede defended South Africa’s dubious past with Botswana’s energy sector where, together with his deputy, Minister-Counsellor Mthembisi Mjikeliso, Lembede, he led a delegation of ambassadors from the BRICS group of countries who made a presentation to to the media and other stakeholders in Gaborone.

At the presentation, the delegation announced the formation of the New Development Bank to finance the bloc’s Africa engagement and infrastructure development projects in Africa. They stated that the BRICS group had resolved to to forge stronger ties with the continent and avail much-needed finance at cheaper rates for infrastructure development.

Botswana representatives were not impressed.

Professor Roman Grynberg, Senior Research Fellow at BIDPA, accused BRICS of bringing nothing original to the table. “The reality is that you all want the same thing. You all want our raw materials for your own development.” Grynberg questioned South Africa’s loyalty and commitment to Africa’s growth. He also blamed the country for the failure of the 2.7 billion tonne Mmamabula energy project which was to help Botswana attain energy independence, instead of its current dependence on South Africa for most of it power.

Ambassador Lembede’s defence of South Africa’s decisions was met with more criticism from Grynberg on South Africa expecting Botswana to export raw cheap coal to South Africa instead of generating power on site. Source: Botswana Gazette