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Chinese envoy counsels NGOs


Staff Writer

The Chinese ambassador to Botswana has warned non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country to desist from acting like government organs.

Speaking at the opening of Botswana Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisation (BOCONGO) annual general meeting in Gaborone on Friday, Ding Xiaowen reminded NGOs that they are representatives of thousands of people from all walks of life.

Ding said NGOs should act as a messenger between the government and the people to promote mutual understanding and social responsibility. He was not sure whether the NGOs played a role in the reduction of alcohol levy from 70 percent to 30 percent.

He asserted that NGOs should be "a partner, a supporter, and a promoter" when in agreement with government on certain issues. The envoy stressed that any NGO must also be "a frank friend, a sober-minded adviser and a kind-minded wake-up caller" when it disagrees.

He encouraged NGOs to do what the government is trying to do, but from a different angle.

Ding pointed out that the NGOs should be in the forefront in fighting tragedies such as passion-killings that befall the country.

He said that every individual should know that the government cannot do everything on its own. "It is the responsibility of all of us as individuals, organisations, schools, civil society and government to work together for the good of the people," he said. He encouraged the NGOs to exercise their power to keep government in check. "When you speak, government officials are listening, members of parliament are listening, the media people are listening, thus Botswana is listening", he said.

Ding attributed the good democratic governance in Botswana to the involvement of the NGOs in safeguarding the interests of other people. He said NGOs have played a unique and indispensable role in making Botswana a success.

He cautioned that NGO is not an abbreviation for no-government is ok. "NGOs are different from government organisations, but it should not stand in opposition of government in order to show our differences or independence," Ding said.

He said government makes policies and an NGO operates out of protecting and promoting the interests of the people.(Mmegi)

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