Obama, wife of US President Barack, will visit the two countries as from June 21 until June 26 accompanied by her mother Mrs Robinson and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.
Asked why she was not visiting Zimbabwe, currently undergoing various economic reform under the Government of National Unity (GNU) Sharon Hudson-Dean Counsellor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Harare said Africa was a very “big continent” and the US First Lady could, therefore, not visit all countries in Africa.
She said, however, during her trip Mrs Obama would be able to discuss issues with two youth leaders from Zimbabwe who were also going to Botswana for the youth discussions that she would host.
In a Press Release ahead of their First Lady’s proposed trip, the US Government praised Botswana and South Africa for their “democracy and economic reform programmes” coming at a time when Zimbabwe, on the other hand, is haggling with forthcoming election issues.
While President Robert Mugabe of the former ruling party Zanu (PF) wants elections to be held this year other political parties in the country including the MDC-T under Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai which has a majority in Parliament say the voter’s role is in a shambles and the nation needs a new constitution.
“Mrs Michelle Obama will visit Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and Gaborone, Botswana in an official visit from June 21 to 26 focussing on youth leadership, education, health and wellness,” said Hudson-Dean in a statement to this Reporter.
The US Embassy in their Press Release made available to this Reporter said: “South Africa is a vital global partner for the US, as political leader and economic engine in the continent, and a historic example of democratic transition in Africa and around the world.
“Botswana’s enduring democracy bolstered by its commitment to using vast natural resources to invest in its people and grow some good governance, and strong institutions to advance prosperous and stable societies.”
The US Embassy said in addition to advancing her international youth engagement agenda, the First Lady’s events will amplify the US President’s support “for democracy, development and economic opportunities across Africa”.
This is not the first time that a US President or First Lady have snubbed Zimbabwe.
Former US President Bill Clinton only flew over the Victoria Falls from South Africa saying it is “the best thing he has ever seen in his life”.
He did not, however, place a foot in the struggling nation which has been slapped with economic sanctions by the US for among many other things poor democracy, a shattered economy and alleged abuse of human rights by President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) and military bosses.