[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 29, 1998]
[Pages 470-471]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception in Gaborone, Botswana
March 29, 1998

    Thank you very much. Mr. Foreign Minister, President Masire, Lady 
Obebile, Vice President Mogae, Mrs. Mogae, and all the 
other people who have previously been recognized by a previous speaker. 
[Laughter] I am glad to be here and to receive such a warm welcome and a 
standing ovation from all of you. [Laughter]
    For Hillary and for me, this has been an extraordinary trip for our 
entire American delegation. It has taken us from Africa's western rim to 
its southern shore, from its smallest villages to its most modern 
cities, from its youngest democracy, South Africa, to its oldest, 
    We have seen the promise of a new Africa whose roots are deep here 
in your soil, for you have been an inspiration to all who cherish 
freedom. At your independence three decades ago, Botswana was among the 
poorest countries on Earth, with only 2 miles of paved roads and one 
public secondary school. Today, you have a vibrant economy, a network of 
major highways, almost full enrollment in primary schools, and the 
longest average lifespan in sub-Saharan Africa. Congratulations to all 
of you. Africa needs more Botswanas, and America is determined to 
support all those who would follow your lead.
    Today I'm pleased to announce our intent to establish Radio 
Democracy for Africa, a Voice of America service aimed directly at 
encouraging progress toward freedom and democracy, respect for human 
rights, and an independent and objective media. I thank Congressman 
Royce in particular for his leadership in 
promoting this program, as well as the other members of our 
congressional delegation.

[[Page 471]]

    Botswana's success was built by its people and by the dedicated 
leaders they chose. President Masire, I am 
deeply honored to be among those here as you leave your distinguished 
tenure. As Vice President and Finance Minister, you sparked the engine 
of an economic miracle by establishing the first joint ventures for 
mining diamonds. You created Botswana's sound fiscal and monetary 
regimes. You negotiated Botswana's access to European markets. You 
earned the trust of your fellow citizens. President, you've ensured that 
human rights and the rule of law could make their home in Botswana. Your 
stand against apartheid and your support of the ANC gave hope to all who 
yearned for dignity and equality in South Africa. You have been a leader 
in conserving wildlife. You've sent your troops on missions of peace in 
Somalia, Rwanda, and Mozambique. And as a founding member and host to 
the SADC Secretariat, you have helped bring countries in this region 
closer together and create new opportunities for your people. Now, as 
you step down from public office after 18 years of leadership, you're 
ensuring the peaceful transfer of power that has come to characterize 
this land.
    Mr. President, on behalf of all 
Americans, I salute you and your achievements. I would say you have 
earned the right to go back to your cattle ranch. [Laughter]
    The United States has been very proud to support Botswana's 
progress. Botswana's success led to the bittersweet closing of our AID 
and Peace Corps programs. But though these development programs have 
finished, their legacy endures. Lady Obebile, 
I know you taught many Peace Corps volunteers their first words in 
Setswana. You helped to ensure that countless young Americans came home 
with a lifelong love for your country and this continent.
    Now we're building in that spirit of cooperation to renew our 
partnership for the future, based on common values, common vision, and 
mutual respect. Together, we can help all men and women in Africa secure 
the freedom that is their birthright. We can deepen our investment in 
trade and bring the prosperity to all citizens. We can work together to 
deter conflicts before they explode into crises. And together, we can 
protect this fragile Earth for future generations.
    Visitors to Botswana will never forget the beauty of your 
environment. Tomorrow Hillary and I will have the great pleasure of 
visiting Chobe ourselves. You have been blessed with abundant resources, 
but none of those is more precious than your people. Because of them, 
the future looks bright for Botswana and for the region as well.
    So, Mr. President, on behalf of all 
Americans, thank you again for the extraordinary example you and the 
people of Botswana have set. I wish you all the best. America is proud 
to be Botswana's partner and friend.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:10 p.m. on the State House Lawn. In his 
remarks, he referred to Sir Ketumile Masire, President of Botswana, and 
his wife, Lady Obebile; Vice President Festus Mogae and his wife, 
Barbara; and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mompati Merahfe. The President 
also referred to the African National Congress (ANC) and the South 
African Development Community (SADC).