Office of the President (OP)
“YES for Youth, no to poverty” Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency, we trust that most of our readers had a pleasant and safe break during the Easter long weekend. Just before the holiday, at a Kgotla meeting at Loologane in western Kweneng, His Excellency the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, revealed that Government will soon launch an enhanced Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES). The scheme shall provide for expanded internship and training opportunities in the private and parastatal, as well as public, sectors. YES will thus build upon the existing internship programme, while taking onboard other initiatives such as the Youth Development and CEDA Young Farmer’s Funds. While in western Kweneng, the President also met with area civil servants. During these encounters he emphasized that in carrying out their duties, they should appreciate that their vocation was a national calling to serve the public, rather than just a job. At the same time he observed that Government was well aware that their salaries are lagging behind inflation and will thus need to be adjusted once the economy has sufficiently recovered. Poverty Eradication Launch A highlight of the past week was the Official Launch of the Poverty Eradication Programme and Guidelines at Tlokweng by His Honour the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, The Programme is the outcome of Government’s policy shift from the alleviation to eradication of poverty, which was pronounced by the President in his second, 2009, Inaugural Address. In that address, His Excellency had underscored his Administration’s commitment to the twin goals of job creation and poverty eradication by announcing that the policies and programmes for achieving these outcomes would be coordinated from the Office of the President by the Vice President, who is currently being assisted by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi. Motivating Government’s shift towards poverty eradication then was the recognition that our country cannot achieve its goal of becoming a sustainable high income economy while leaving some of its citizens behind. We therefore needed to become more proactive in ensuring a dignified life for all. The Guidelines launched this week are also an outcome of the historic “Pitso Ya Nyeletso Lehuma”, which was convened by the President in Mahalapye in October 2010, where a strategy for poverty eradication was presented, amended and approved, along with a roadmap for further action. A key finding of the Pitso was that poverty eradication would be best addressed through initiatives tailored to local conditions. This was in an appreciation of the fact that each community in our country has its own mix of opportunities and challenges, which are best met through grassroots programmes and projects. To formulate such initiatives, as a follow up to the Mahalapye gathering, local Dipitso, as well as other forms of consultation, were subsequently held in all districts. In his Keynote remarks at yesterday’s launch, the Vice President informed the audience that the rollout of projects under the Poverty Eradication Programme is now intensifying. In this context, he confirmed that already 319 backyard projects have been completed and another 592 are under construction in 30 constituencies. His Honour also noted that 2894 Batswana have been identified for training on alternative packages, while P21 million has already been disbursed to set up projects for those who have been trained. In addition, he announced that some 7000 backyard gardens will be rolled out to cover all constituencies starting this month. Besides putting food on their families’ tables, the programme aims to provide its beneficiaries with a basic income of up to P 5 thousand a month through the selling of their produce. Noting that the Poverty Eradication Guidelines were a synthesis of data collected from the Dipitso and other fora, the Vice President concluded by observing that their objectives are to provide all stakeholders with a common platform and shared information, while ensuring that the core principles of transparency and objectivity are built into the programme. House Handover Last Thursday Minister Masisi, on behalf of OP staff members and other contributors, handed over a house to Broadhurst to Mr. Levi Modipe, which had been constructed as part of his Ministry’s Community Service Day commitment. Groundbreaking for the house took place back in November 2010 on the first Community Service Day, which had been led by the President and other members of Cabinet. Speaking at the handover, Minister Masisi described the Community Service Day initiative as evidence of Government’s commitment to assist the less privileged in various ways. Giving a vote of the area MP and Assistant Minister for Education and Skills development, the Hon. Keletso Rakhudu, who had himself contributed material to the house’s construction, expressed his appreciation that the project had been completed through many such voluntary contributions of cash and kind. In addition to money raised by Ministry of State President staff, the project also benefitted from private sector and individual donations, including those by Barclays Bank, Dulux, Builders World, Haskins, Culture Spears Group, CTM, Senn Foods, Ghanzi Beef, and Pick N Pay Molapo Crossing.
“PARTNERING FOR BETTER DELIVERY” Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. This morning (30/03/12)H.E. the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is scheduled to be in Tlokweng, where he will witness the handover of houses for the needy that have been constructed as part of his ongoing Housing Appeal. Over the weekend he and other members of the political leadership are expected to participate in the ruling party’s National Council. Engaging Local Authorities On Tuesday (27/03/12), the President addressed the South East District Council at the opening of a joint meeting between the Council and Cabinet. In his remarks, he reminded the gathering that the value of the Taking Cabinet to the Councils initiative cannot be overemphasized given the key role local authorities play in assuring that Government as a whole delivers on its democratic mandate to provide services to Batswana. It is thus seen as vital for the political leadership at the national executive level to directly interact with their local counterparts to achieve better mutual understanding of shared legislative and policy implementation objectives. The need for such periodic exchanges has been magnified in the context of resource constraints that can be best overcome through local initiatives that realize increased revenues and savings. In this respect, the President urged councillors to explore options for cost saving in the provision of local services and the repair and maintenance of Council properties, while also supporting local businesses. He further urged Councillors to inform their constituents about the opportunities and threats arising from the nation’s economic challenges on their localities. At the same time he reassured the audience of his administration’s steadfast commitment to ensuring the social upliftment of Batswana through such programmes as ISPAAD, LIMID, Ipelegeng, Poverty Eradication and Youth Development, as well as its continued support to those in need and old age pensioners. Commending the South East District for its proactive embrace of Poverty Eradication interventions, the President observed that in moving forward there was a need to anchor the programme around dikgosi as key agents of community mobilization. The President concluded his remarks by expressing concern about the “unacceptable” recent tendency for local governance to be compromised as a result of inappropriate motions of no confidence in Council Chairpersons and Mayors, further noting that: “Both the Townships Act and the District Councils Act are very clear on elections of the political leadership of Councils and the period after which elections must be held. I want to remind all Councils to focus on issues of developing their communities and desist from things that do not add value to their mandate.” Overcoming Business Bottlenecks Another highlight of the week was the convening in Gaborone of the Regional Conference for Doing Business in Africa, which brought together senior public and private sector stakeholders from some 15 eastern and southern African countries to deliberate around the theme of “Doing Business Reform in Africa: A Peer-to-Peer Learning Experience” The Conference was officially opened by H.H. the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, who observed that the conference theme clearly set out an agenda for a frank and open discussion on the existing impediments to doing business within the region along with potential benchmarks for moving forward. He also observed that such a sharing of experiences should serve to facilitate foreign and cross border investments, further noting that: “Our efforts to create wealth will be in vain if we fail to create a conducive environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive. As governments, we can create that environment by developing regulations that do not stifle decision making by entrepreneurs. I therefore call upon our respective governments to make it possible for our citizens and indeed foreign and domestic investors to conduct business in our countries with ease. Most importantly, I urge all countries represented here today to promote openness and competitiveness.” The Vice President further noted that consistent with his own Government’s recognition that improving the business climate within Botswana remained an urgent priority, the President has appointed a six-member committee of Cabinet Ministers to guide the reform process. Empowering the Destitute Responding in Parliament, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi this week re-affirmed Government’s intention to eradicate poverty in all its forms, while noting that the Poverty Eradication Programme was making progress towards enabling those in abject poverty to undertake income generating projects through extensive mentoring, life skills training and market access support. The Minister further observed that while the programme was aimed at empowering the able bodied destitute to move into sustainable livelihoods, Government will continue to provide material assistance to disabled destitute persons so as to ensure that they too can live a dignified life. In an additional response, he also reported that, according to the Department of Social Services, there are currently 30294 registered destitute in the country (about 1.5% of the total population).
“Transparent and Accountable Governance” Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. This morning H.E. the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is scheduled to welcome the arrival H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania for a two day visit to our country. The Tanzanian President is coming to Botswana to take part in the celebrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the founding of ruling Botswana Democratic Party, which will culminate in a gala event tomorrow at the University of Botswana stadium. Both Presidents Kikwete and Khama are expected to speak at Saturday’s event, which is also expected to draw the attendance of a number of other regional VIPs, including the Honourable South African Deputy President, Kalema Motlante. As he had promised Mahalapye residents at a Kgotla meeting last week, on Monday morning, the President met with the Minister and senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and associated stakeholders, including the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). Among the issues that were discussed was the possibility of shifting away from the bolus chip to an alternative system of livestock identification. The comprehensive briefing further focused on other Agricultural issues ranging from the ongoing progress of development schemes such as ISPAAD and LIMID, to efforts to secure additional alternative markets for domestic livestock products. During the week, His Excellency also received progress reports from the Ministries of Lands and Housing, Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, and Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs and was further pleased to receive the credential of the incoming envoys of Switzerland, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Zambia, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea. On Wednesday the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, presented before Parliament’s Committee of Supply his Recurrent and Development Budget proposals for core departments falling under the Ministry of State President (MSP), namely, the Office of the President and State House, Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), National Aids Coordinating Agency, Departments of Information and Broadcasting Services, Government Printing and Publishing Services, the National Strategy Office and Offices of the two Former President. As an integral part of Parliament’s Annual Budget Session, the Committee of Supply Speeches are an exercise involving all line Ministries who are in each case expected to itemise their spending expectations for the coming financial year. The speeches thus build upon Government’s overall Budget Proposals, as presented at the beginning of the session by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Development Planning, by further providing Parliament and the Public with expenditure details in the interest of transparency and accountability Altogether, Minister Masisi proposed the sum of just under P 550 million for the MSP Recurrent Budget, an 11.6% increase from last year, while the sum P 470.8 million was proposed for the Development Budget. Although the latter figure represents a 57% decrease from the 2011/2012 development expenditure, it was noted that most of the reduction was in fact due to the strategic transfer of some HIV/AIDS interventions to the recurrent budgets of the Ministries of Health and Local Government, as well as NACA. Out of the proposed MSP recurrent budget, DPSM accounts for the largest share at 23.7%, followed by Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) at 22.9% and Office of the President at 19.8%, with the rest of the Ministry’s departments sharing the remaining 33.6%. Among the priorities outlined by the Minister in his presentation was the need to operationalise Public Service Bargaining Council and upscale Public Service Reforms through improved Human Resource Management. The Minister was also pleased to report that an encouraging uptake for packages provided under the Poverty Eradication Programme. In this respect he noted that a range of empowerment initiatives in agriculture, industry and commerce were now underway. He also informed the house that to ensure grassroots input, mini-Dipitso have been held at different localities across the country with a view to developing poverty eradication strategies that are suited to each locality. With respect to HIV/AIDS, Masisi was encouraged by the steady decline in HIV prevalence among pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years from 37.4% in 2003 to 30.4% in 2011, further noting that his decline was most significant among the 15 to 19 year age group which was from a high of 32.4% in 1995 to 10% in 2011. Among the 20-24 year olds the decline was from 34.8% in 1995 to 19% in 2011. But, notwithstanding this positive trend, the Minister communicated this administration’s continued concern about the long term financial sustainability of the national response to HIV and AIDS. Finally, in its latest edition a local Sunday newspaper insinuates that the President is somehow “in on controversial BDC plot sale”. The truth of the matter is however simple and straightforward. Four years ago a company, that he was then a director and minority shareholder in, divested itself fully from the real estate development in question because he believed that participating in such a joint venture with the BDC would no longer be appropriate once he became State President. Neither he nor his partners therefore has had any ties to the project since 2008.
“Reaching out to the Needy” Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. Notable public events over the past week included His Excellency the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s, handing over of houses at Xaixai and His Honour the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe’s Kgotla meeting with Mahalapye residents. Meanwhile, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, the Honourable Mokgweetsi Masisi, lived up to this Office’s goal of connecting with Batswana every day through his engagement in daily Kgotla meetings and consultations across his constituency. President at Xaixai On Sunday the President travelled to the remote village of Xaixai in the Okavango Sub-District, where he handed over 25 houses and 600 goats to deserving families, as well as children’s gifts. The houses were built through the President’s Housing Appeal for the Needy, while the small stock was sourced through Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) programme. During the event His Excellency commended the companies and individuals who have contributed to the Housing Appeal, while urging others to also step forward. At the event he was accompanied by five of the prominent businessmen who have contributed to the appeal – Willy Kathurima of Kathurima Associates, Mohammed Dada of Broadhurst Motors, Rafik Sardar of Trade World, Salim Shiek of Builders World and Farouk Chopdat of Choppies, as well as members of the private as well as public service media. A total of 453 houses have so far been pledged by good Samaritans in response to the initiative. But it was noted that it is currently estimated that over a thousand homes are needed to cater to the existing needs of the Remote Area Settlements alone. Among Sunday’s beneficiaries was 92 year old Xhao Tiqhao, whose housing plight, as seen earlier on BTV, has been an inspiration for the initial launch of the Appeal by concerned entrepreneurs. As the Appeal’s Coordinator, Senior Private Secretary Duke Masilo, reportedly observed: “When His Excellency the President was here in 2010 to present Christmas gifts to residents, Botswana Television covered the event. The resulting clips that showed the abject poverty afflicting people here motivated calls for members of the public to come together to address the basic need for shelter.” At the event, the President was also accompanied by the Assistant Minister of Local Government, the Honourable Maxwell Motowane, who used the occasion to highlight the fact that, since last year’s Remote Area Pitso in Ghanzi, Government has been fully committed to the implementation of further affirmative action empowerment measures to better livelihoods in communities such as Xaixai. In this context, the Assistant Minister pleaded for individuals in the private as well as public sector to play a part in providing further opportunities for sustainable development in remote rural areas. On their return from what most agreed had been an uplifting day, the President’s entourage experienced some discomfort when the BDF aircraft they were flying in experienced technical problems on landing due to an apparent fault with one of the landing wheels. The plane, however, landed safely, while the BDF has confirmed that the incident is under investigation. On Wednesday, Duke Masilo, was pleased to be able to hand over an additional twelve houses to the needy at Dikwididi and Mochudi villages. Vice President at Mahalapye Current international economic volatility, as reflected in this week’s downgrade of projected global economic growth by the world Bank, along with the continued need for balanced public spending mean that Government will have to continue to do more with less in the coming year. This was a key message put forward by His Honour the Vice President on Monday, when he addressed a well attended gathering of Mahalapye residents. The Vice President observed that while prevailing circumstance was a challenge as stakeholders finalise their spending plans, the budget proposals for the 2012-13 financial year would cater to the needs of all Batswana. In this respect he underscored the fact that Government would continue to target such areas as economic diversification and poverty eradication in line with its long term commitments. His Honour went on to voice his personal dismay at the reported high level of female destitute in the Mahalapye Sub-District, which he observed pointed to an urgent need for the community to come together in supporting sustainable development through such activities as local small, medium and micro enterprise (SMMEs) as well as agricultural projects. On a more encouraging note it was noted that 435 people in the area had benefitted from the Poverty Eradication Programme last year, whose projects offer opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. Go Zebras Like workplaces across the country, our staff are donning Botswana blue, black and white are the predominant fashion as workers at all levels anticipate next Tuesday’s opening AFCON match pitting the Zebras against Ghana. Fans across the country had good news this week with the announcement that BTV are now expected to broadcast the tournament’s matches. This development was made possible after SportFive, a French based company that was given exclusive rights to the tournament by CAF, dramatically reduced their asking price. As a result the national broadcaster, with the generous support of Debswana, Orange Botswana and Botswana Life, is now expected to be able to fully meet the costs of coverage.
President to receive Statesman of the Year Award Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into events and issues involving the Presidency. This morning H.E. the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will depart for the New York, where on Monday he is to deliver the Keynote Address at the Opening of the 10th Session of the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is convened at the United Nations Headquarters. On Sunday evening, His Excellency with further attend the Justice Gala 2011 Awards, where he is to receive the Justitia Award for Statesman of the Year from the Berlin based Cinema for Peace Foundation for his promotion of international justice and human rights. In their letter to the President, the Foundation states: “We would like to congratulate you on your leadership in Africa transforming Botswana to a role model state that has freedom of speech, a low corruption rate and a vital economic growth. Especially, we want to express our respect for your achievements to promote justice on an international level. Through your efforts, you have taken a further step to bring your country to international leadership.” The Cinema for Peace Foundation, currently chaired by actor Sean Penn, is driven by an International Committee whose membership combines a who’s who of Hollywood A-list and Noble Peace Prize Laureates, including: George Clooney, Catherine Deneuve, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bob Geldorf, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Ben Kingsley, Liza Minelli, Liam Neeson, Tim Robbins, Susan Saradon and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with Mikhail Gorbachev, Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama. The President is scheduled to return next Tuesday. Also this week the President officially opened of the new Kachikau-Ngoma Road and Nteletsa II Telecommunications Services in the Chobe District. In his remarks, he observed that the construction of the 38 kilometre road, at a cost of P 193 million, will be a catalyst for the emerging tourist industry in the Chobe Enclave, while the soon to be completed rollout of Nteletsa II infrastructure will deliver online ICT services to all gazetted villages in the District. Last Saturday His Honour the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, was the keynote speaker at this year’s UN Day for People with Disabilities, which was held at Kasane. In his remarks, His Honour noted that two years ago Government made the decision to establish the Office of National Coordinator of Persons with Disabilities with a clear mandate to ensure the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at empowering Persons with Disabilities on a sustainable basis. He further reported that Government has completed the Disability Policy Review, which addresses such emerging issues as unemployment, poverty, HIV and AIDS pandemic, skills development, legal protection and social protection and security. A further highlight of Saturday’s programme was the bestowing of the annual Disability Awards by the Botswana Council for the Disabled. This year’s awards included 11 recipients for achievements in categories ranging from the establishment of successful small businesses through the arts, sports and community service. Each recipient received a P 3000 as well as trophy. The awards were further sponsored by the MVA Fund, Motor Centre, BOMAID and the Department of Arts and Culture. Tomorrow, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, will be at Diphuduhudu, Kweneng, to engage the residents of the remote area community on issues of Poverty Eradication. Yesterday, he was the keynote speaker at the National Human Resources Conference, whose theme was “Leadership for Africa” In his remarks at the conference, the Minister noted that Botswana was still grappling with the impact of the recent global recession, which has required all stakeholders to re-examine their human resource capacities. Citing the 2011 Global Competitiveness Report, he further conceded that of late Botswana’s global rating on the performance of its human capital has been disappointing, further contrasting such findings with the work ethic in the past. “During the period of migrant labour, it was well known that Batswana labourers could be relied on as they were trustworthy and hard workers. This was applicable to both mine workers and corn-gatherers. Even during the World War II, the Botswana contingent was respected for hard work and commitment.” On Monday the Minister was in Nxarago, where he opened a Kgotla shelter and Nteletsa II project. Also this past week Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perception Index, which for the 16th year in a row ranked Botswana as being the least corrupt country in Africa, as well as among the least corrupt countries in the world. This Office is pleased to note that our country’s overall score (6.1) and ranking (32 out of 183 countries) have improved, placing us within in the top 20% of all surveyed nations, as well as above over half of the nations of Europe. Finally, we note with sadness the untimely death of the founding Ombudsman of our Republic, Mr. Lethebe Amos Maine. Our prayers are with his family in their moment of trial and grief; may his soul rest in peace.
Botswana 1st in Africa in Accountability and the Rule of Law At the beginning of this week the Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its annual Index of African Governance, which as in previous years ranked Botswana 3rd in Africa in terms of our overall Good Governance, just below the island nations of Mauritius and Cape Verde. Our country was also ranked first on the continent in the sub-categories of Accountability and the Rule of Law. In sharp contrast to the negative perceptions of some local critics, at 76 Botswana’s overall score in the Ibrahim Index has been stable since the annual survey was first published in 2006, underscoring Government’s consistent commitment to human development and public service delivery, as well as adherence to best practice norms of democracy and the rule of law. The Ibrahim Index is widely regarded as Africa’s leading assessment of governance. Data for compiling the Index is drawn from 86 indicators grouped into 14 sub-categories and four overarching categories, namely Safety and the Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Taken together the indicators are designed to measure the effective delivery by Governments of public goods and services to their citizens. In this respect the Index can be seen as a useful external yardstick of this Administration’s own adherence its guiding “5 D” principles of Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery. In the interest of achieving the greatest degree of objectivity, reliability and accountability, the Ibrahim Index is compiled by independent researchers in partnership with an Advisory Council and a Technical Committee that include experts from a wide range of respected African and International institutions, who source their information from 23 aggregated data providers drawing on over 40,000 raw data points. The latest Index is further reported to have included new indicators in the areas physical and telecommunications infrastructure, gender, health, welfare service provision and economic management. To ensure grass roots input into its assessments the Ibrahim Foundation is also partnering with Afrobarometer and Global Integrity South Africa in creating a pan-African databank of citizens’ views and voices on a range of governance issues. The Week that Was Over the weekend, H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, did a walkabout in wards located in the Francistown South constituency. During the tour he reiterated his conviction that it was most unfortunate that some essential service workers had remained on strike after being ordered back to work by the Courts, noting that besides defying lawful authority the said individuals should have considered their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, such as patients in critical care at hospitals and clinics. On Monday, the President’s schedule included receiving a quarterly brief from the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, while most of Tuesday was taken up with reviews of various Ministries and Inter-Ministerial initiatives. Also on Monday, His Excellency took time to personally bestow the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service on Mr. Roy Blackbeard, for his devotion to duty in service of the nation. Mr. Blackbeard had been out of the country when his award was first announced last month at the 2011 Honours and Awards Ceremony. Mr. Blackbeard has been our High Commissioner in London since 1998, prior to which he served as the Minister of Agriculture as well as a Member of Parliament. Following Cabinet, on Wednesday afternoon His Excellency departed for the Nata/Gweta Constituency in order to address a Kgotla meeting at Maposa. This was followed on Thursday by additional meetings Mosetse and Kutamogoree. Yesterday, His Honour the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, officiated at the Opening of the NDP 9 projects at Botswana College of Agriculture, while today he is scheduled to receive a Courtesy call by the Cuban Ambassador, H.E. Ramon Alonso Medina. Also today the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi will be addressing Kgotla Meetings at Ralekgetho, in the morning, and Tshwaane, in the afternoon. At a Kgotla meeting at the Moshupa Main Kgotla last week, Minister Masisi echoed the President’s Independence Day Message, warning that despite recent economic growth the economy could be negatively affected if major international markets slid back into recession as is currently feared by many observers. He also reminded resident’s that Government remained committed to overcoming the current budget deficit in order to ensure sustained long term growth, observing that given the small size of the local economy it would be unwise for Botswana to borrow and spend beyond its means as some seemed to advocate. In his remarks, the Minister further confirmed that he would press for anti-floor crossing legislation for both MPs and Councillors in the next session of Parliament.
INSIDE THE PRESIDENCY – Real Leadership for Real Delivery Self-reliance key to Rural Development Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into events and issues involving the Presidency. This morning H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will be holding one of his periodic meetings with Permanent Secretaries. These gatherings are an opportunity for the collective leadership of the civil service to interact as a group with His Excellency so as to share their candid perspectives on how to improve public service delivery. Sharing perspectives for better delivery was also at the top of the agenda at this Tuesday’s joint meeting of Cabinet and the Ghanzi District Council, which was held at Ghanzi Council Chambers. The initiative of taking Cabinet to the Councils has become an important platform for the exchange of ideas between the National Executive and Local Authorities, recognising that the latter play a critical role in enhancing our democracy by, among other things, ensuring that Government policies and programmes match local capacity and expectations. In addition to the Ghanzi, joint Cabinet- Local Council meetings have so far been held with the Francistown and Gaborone City Councils, and Kweneng, Central, Southern, North West and Kgalagadi District Councils. They are scheduled to continue in the coming months so that Cabinet ultimately has the opportunity to interact with all of the nation’s Local Authorities. In his opening remarks at Tuesday’s gathering the President noted that, given the current state of our economy, which has had a negative effect on revenues resulting in budget deficits, political leaders at both the national and local level now have a responsibility to inform Batswana that Government will not be able to deliver on some of the projects that were promised in the past. In this context, he noted that there was a need for Councils to become more proactive in their own revenue collection so as to complement the grants they receive from Central Government. In the absence of such stepped up cost recovery, he warned that funding will otherwise become inadequate for the provision and extension of desired services and infrastructure. His Excellency also urged Local Authorities to consider privatisation of some of their non-core functions such as cleaning, security, refuse collection and gardening services to enable them to concentrate on their core mandate of ensuring the overall delivery of public policies and programme. Observing that such outsourcing would “serve to stimulate private sector investment in the provision of goods and services” thus enhancing efficiency that “will also generate sustainable rural employment and alleviate poverty”, he also noted that: “It should also be realised that sustainable rural livelihoods must be based on the economic realities of the rural situation. We therefore need to recognise the varying potentials of the different districts and focus on issues of comparative advantage and market access. There is a lot of potential in areas such as the livestock subsector, cultural villages, game viewing and the hospitality industry just to mention the key ones. These are some of the economic activities that Ghanzi District can leverage on using government assistance programmes.” The President also expressed his concern that the spirit of self help that had laid a solid foundation for nation building and mobilisation for development at independence has given way to an unsustainable culture of entitlement and dependency on government. He concluded his remarks by reminding the audience that their key challenge and focus remained employment creation and poverty reduction, which would require all of the Councils to pursue strategies and initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty, acknowledging that besides Government, rural development initiatives must also tale on board the private sector and civil society, including community based organizations. In other activities this week, on Monday the President received a courtesy call from the President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Mr. Jean Todt, who had come to Gaborone to attend the first General Meeting of the African Council for Tourism and Automobile (ACTA). The meeting was hosted this week by the Ministry of Transport and Communication in association with other stakeholders. In addition to Botswana it attracted the participation of delegates from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In other engagements His Excellency on Thursday received a farewell call from the outgoing Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Mr. Ryoichi Matsuyama, who has the distinction of being his country’s first resident Ambassador. The opening of the Japanese Embassy in Gaborone in 2008 has proved to be a milestone in the strengthening of bilateral relations, as was reflected in the success of the President’s State Visit to Japan last year. In saying goodbye, the President warmly thanked Ambassador Matsuyama for his energetic efforts over the past three years in promoting people to people as well as official contact between our two countries. During the week His Excellency also received briefings from the Ministries of Health and Lands and Housing and chaired a meeting of his political party’s Central Committee.
Today His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama will be in Oodi as part of his personal commitment to the community service day initiative. Meanwhile Office of the President staff members will be participating in community service day activities in Thamaga, which will involve tree planting, donations to the needy, and community outreach about the offices services. His Excellency returned yesterday from a highly productive three day tour of West Africa, which involved working visits to the capitals of Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. In the spirit of African Union and South-South partnership, the common purpose of the visits was to promote greater cooperation, particularly with respect trade and investment, while sharing perspectives on bilateral and multilateral issues of common concern. At each stopover, the President was hosted and held official talks with his fellow Presidents - H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria, H.E. Prof. John Atta Mills of Ghana and H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia - during which the leaders affirmed their shared, Pan-African, commitment to democracy and development through good governance. Accompanying the President was the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, and senior officials. As the tour coincided with H.H. the Vice President, Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe’s attendance at the 2011 SADC Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit in Angola, the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, the Hon. Ponatshego Kedikilwe served as Acting President, while the President was away. On Tuesday morning, His Excellency departed aboard OK 1 for the first leg of his tour, to Abuja Nigeria, arriving at midday. There he held wide ranging official talks the Nigerian President Jonathan, which focused on ongoing efforts to increase economic cooperation in such areas as energy sector. They also discussed developments in North Africa and elsewhere. From Abuja, the President flew to Accra, where on Wednesday he was hosted by his Ghanaian counterpart, President Mills. The two leaders agreed that Ghana and Botswana share a common values and challenges as nations committed to development and democracy through good governance. Sectors identified as having potential for greater bilateral cooperation included mining, agriculture, education and environmental issues. Speaking to the press following the talks, the two Presidents agreed that there was a need for African leaders to respect their constitutions of their countries and not to overstay their terms of office, with the Ghanaian President observing that many political difficulties on the continent arose from an unhealthy desire of some to perpetuate their stay in power after their mandate had expired. They further lamented the current situation in which Africans seem to be more familiar with Europe and America than one another. President Khama also paid special tribute to President Mills for his role in working for the restoration of peace, democracy and the rule of law in Cote d’Ivoire in the context of proactive efforts by the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS), backed by the AU and UN, to ensure a handover of power to the 2010 Presidential election winner Alassane Ouattarra. Khama also announced that a Permanent Joint Commission for Co-operation would be established between the two countries before the end of the year. Late Wednesday, the President departed for Liberia, where he was welcomed at the airport by President Johnson Sirleaf who expressed her desire that her recently war torn country benefit from Botswana's good governance experience. In response President Khama confirmed that our country was prepared to assist in "whatever way we can to help you.” During their talks the two Presidents further discussed areas of cooperation including the mining industry, where Botswana has agreed to assist Liberia in rebuilding its diamond sector. As we go to press H.H. the Vice President and other leaders remain in closed session at this week’s SADC Summit in Luanda. The Summit has considered the Report of the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation on various regional political issues, as well as additional reports on Regional Economic Integration, the SADC Tribunal and financial and administrative matters. At the Summit the Vice President was joined by Hon. Phandu Skelemani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Kenneth Matambo, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, Minister of Trade and Industry and senior government officials. In addition the Summit was also attended by Former President Festus Mogae who, in his role as Chairperson of Champions for an HIV/AIDS Free Generation addressed the gathering on strategies to further reduce the scourge of the virus within the region. On Monday, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration was the keynote Speaker at the launch of the Vision 2016 “Living the Vision 2016” education campaign. In his remarks the Minister Masisi expressed satisfaction that the campaign had incorporated sectors of society that had been previously left out, further observing that initiatives like the Poverty Eradication campaign and Presidential Housing Appeal were manifestations of realizing the Vision.
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