Office of the President (OP)
OP welcomes Vice President’s return to duty. Welcome once more your weekly window into the Presidency. Today, His Excellency the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is expected to participate in Community Service Day activities at Mmopane, while tomorrow he is scheduled to attend the annual Prisons’ Day events at Mahalapye. A highlight of the past week has been the return to duty of His Honour the Vice President, Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe. There was joy and emotion in the room when he joined Office staff in their weekly early morning prayers. Hitting the ground running, yesterday His Honour delivered the keynote address on the occasion of the opening of the 10th All-Africa Junior Athletics Championships, which is being hosted by Botswana at the UB Stadium. In his remarks, he observed that Botswana was honoured to have been selected to host the Games, which are an opportunity for the region as a whole to take stock of it various sport development programmes, further noting that the event allows young athletes to showcase their talents, thus preparing them for a bigger stage. The All Africa Junior Championships were one of two major international events that were successfully hosted in Gaborone this week, the other being the 6th Annual IST-Africa (Information Society Technologies in Africa) Conference and Exhibition, which was profiled in our last edition. His Excellency the President’s schedule this past week included his opening of the Botswana Democratic Party’s Women’s Wing Congress in Nata, where he observed that women have been the bedrock of the party. He further noted that while it is women who are sadly often the most affected by social ills, they are also invariably in the fore front of meeting such challenges, adding: “It is female led families that are most affected by poverty and this is one of the factors that directed beneficiation of the poverty eradication project to homes.” The President further called on the party to redouble its efforts to ensure that as many women as possible are nominated by the party for political office in the next election, scheduled for 2014, stating his continued concern that: “despite the fact that women continue to be active in politics in large numbers and contribute immensely to our party and nation, we continue to fail to demonstrate their level of participation by the very low numbers that ultimately stand for election to positions of political leadership.” The President’s remarks won the praise of the local chapter of Gender Links, which noted: “The fact that his Excellency realises something has to be done shows that we as a nation are taking steps in the right direction.” As is often the norm, much of His Excellency’s week was taken up with briefings from line Ministries. This week’s schedule included quarterly progress reports by the Ministries of Agriculture, Labour and Home affairs, Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, as well as a his regular updating on global issues by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Following the latter gathering, the President once more expressed his deep concern at the continued violence being perpetuated by the Syrian regime in a statement that further revealed that he had written to the UN Secretary-General asking him to use his good offices to call upon the Security Council to take appropriate action. During the week, His Excellency also found time to answer questions by the Weekend Post newspaper about the ongoing strike by some public sector workers. Also during the week the Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Patrick Masimolole was pleased to be the guest of honour at the handing over of a backyard garden project in Tlokweng, which was donated by Communications Students at Limkokwing University as the voluntary contribution to His Excellency’s Poverty Eradication initiative. In making their gesture the students received guidance and support from Flotek, Sanitas and Garden Nurseries, as well as the Office of the President and other Government departments. Also during the week, this Office issued a statement expressing the view that the ongoing strike action by a segment of public service workers has heretofore been a testament to the fact that, notwithstanding their natural differences, the overwhelming majority of Batswana remain united in their respect for each other and the rule of law. In this context, the statement expressed disappointment with a South African media report that suggested that Botswana’s internationally renowned record of political stability was at risk, observing that we are a nation used to meeting our challenges by upholding its own time honoured principles of good governance based on mutual respect. The statement further noted that inasmuch as strikes can occur in the life in any democracy, Botswana has put in place appropriate laws and mechanisms for managing such circumstance, that are fully consistent with relevant ILO protocols. It also reaffirmed the fact that since the beginning of the strike a large majority of public service workers have chosen to remain on duty.
Facilitating Diversification through Private Initiative Welcome once more your weekly window into the Presidency. Today His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will travel to Nata, where he will attend the opening of the 13th Congress of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s Women’s Wing. Following the Labour Day holiday, His Excellency resumed his normal schedule of weekly Cabinet meetings and progress briefings from line Ministries. This week the President was briefed by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST). Among the topics highlighted at the briefing was next week’s 6th Annual IST-Africa (Information Society Technologies in Africa) Conference and Exhibition, which the Ministry will be hosting from May 11-13th at the GICC. The international conference, which has the support of the European Union as well as corporate sponsorship from Mascom, Botswana Post and CISCO, will be an opportunity for local ICT companies and researchers to forge beneficial partnerships with others in the region and beyond. It is further expected that the gathering will focus on areas of collaboration in applied ICT research such as e-Health, e-Government and Digital Libraries. The IST-Africa Conference thus dovetails with Government’s overarching efforts to promote economic diversification by facilitating private initiative, with an emphasis on Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises. During the week, His Excellency also resumed his schedule of kgotla engagements. On Wednesday and Thursday he toured the Barolong Constituency, where he listened to the aspirations and concerns of residents in Leporung, Phitshane-Molopo, Mmakgori and Dikhukhung villages. As the Barolong meetings were already on the President’s schedule it is not true, as has been reported in elsehere, that he postponed a requested meeting with opposition party leaders on issues related to the recent strike by some public service. As we go to press alternative arrangements are under consideration. With respect to the strike, Government welcomed last Friday’s decision by the Industrial Court to maintain its earlier temporary interdict forbidding public sector workers in essential services such as health and fire fighting from striking. Through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Government further noted that as the strike by essential employees remains illegal and interdicted, all public sector employees engaged in essential services should immediately return to work. In a separate statement DPSM also reminded the public that Government as the employer, had taken the decision at the beginning of the strike to apply the ‘No Work No Pay Rule’ for every public officer participating in the strike. As a result DPSM will effect deductions from salaries for each employee’s period of participation in the strike from the current month of May. It was also announced this week that the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr. Eric Molale, has appointed Mr. Abraham Keetshabe as General Counsel in the Office of the President with immediate effect. As General Counsel Mr. Keetshabe will be serving as the Office’s chief legal advisor and resident attorney. The Presidency has been previously served by a Chief State Counsel. Mr. Keetshabe higher title reflects of the enhanced level of law related issues he is expected to handle. It may also be noted that, contrary to a press report, Mr. Keetshabe has not been appointed as a "Special Advisor" Mr. Keetshabe brings to his new position a wealth of professional experience and achievement. Immediately prior to his current appointment he has served as the Deputy Attorney General and Government Attorney. H.H. the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe’s engagements during the week included his launching of this year’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) Conference and Fair, which was held under the theme: “Exploiting Existing Opportunities – A Strategy for Economic Diversification”. The event is sponsored by Government, through the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to give impetus to SMME as drivers of economic diversification. Statistics indicate that SMME’s already account for 32% of the job market and a growing percentage of the nations GDP. His Honour informed the audience that the Government, through LEA, has been able to provide the necessary interventions for SMMEs in the form of outreach programmes for constructive partnerships with the private sector, including the signing of 13 Memoranda of Understanding the other organisations aimed at facilitating improvements to the business climate of SMMEs. H.H. the Acting Vice President was also the keynote speaker at the Lions Club District 412 Convention held at Selebi-Phikwe, which brought together delegates from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as Botswana. In his remarks he noted that in an era of budgetary constraints the voluntary contributions of service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs, along with businesses is all the more welcome. He further observed that it is fitting that the Convention coincided with initiatives such as the President’s recent launching of Pitso Ya Nyeletso Lehuma and Market Day. While in Selebi-Phikwe His Honour also commended the Badikolobe Piggery cooperative for its ongoing efforts to establish a meat processing centre in the town with the support of the Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU).
Always on duty Welcome to back your weekly window into the Presidency. Notwithstanding the recent Easter Holiday and Cabinet Recess, the political leadership have been occupied with affairs of state over the past two weeks, addressing various domestic and international challenges. In this context, by its very nature the Executive Leadership can be said to be always on duty. On the international stage, His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, this week hosted the President of Namibia, his Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, who arrived in Botswana for a one day visit in his capacity as the Chairperson of SADC. The two Presidents met for discussions on issues of common concern. In addition President Pohamba visited SADC headquarters. In the interest of promoting peace, good governance and democracy over the past two week Government has further expressed public concern with events in Syria, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. In the case of Syria, Botswana joined others in the international community by condemning the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, urging the Syrian government to engage in dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of its people. Botswana also registered its concern at the post-election turmoil in parts of Nigeria, while welcoming the country’s recent holding of Parliamentary and Presidential elections. Former President Festus Mogae was prominent among the international election observers who judged the process to have been largely free and fair. The Office of the President also issued a statement in support the ongoing efforts of the African Union to bring about a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in Libya. The statement observed that given the country’s four decades of oppression under Colonel Gaddafi, as well as his regimes recent unleashing of violence against peaceful protestors, Botswana strongly believes that any new political dispensation which includes members of the Gaddafi family should not be considered. This position is consistent with that of the multinational Libya Contact Group, which at a meeting in Doha “affirmed that Gaddafi's regime has lost all legitimacy and he should leave and allow the Libyan people to decide their future". The Presidency also welcomed the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire, in a statement that further expressed our fervent hope that under the leadership of President Oattarra the country will regain its status as a peaceful democracy and developing economy. On the domestic front the President, along with the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Ministers have been especially engaged by the ongoing strike by a portion of public service workers. While touring the Tonota North constituency on the eve of the strike, His Excellency reiterated that, given the current deficit, Government is not able to agree with the demand for an immediate 16% increment in public service salaries, but was prepared to consider a 5% increase if the economy continues to improve. This could be determined by a joint review of the performance of the economy in the first quarter (April-June) of this financial year. Government’s position was reiterated by His Honour the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, who in remarks at the opening of the Eloyi Christina church at Tsetsebjwe over the Easter holiday observed that: “we are not against an increment but are saying that the economy has not yet recovered to grant it.” His Honour further observed that an immediate adjustment of 16% would put undue pressure on Government to make cutbacks in other areas vital to the country’s economic and social wellbeing. At the event, the Acting Vice President also spoke about the vital role played by the Church in National Development, stating that it was in recognition of this fact that the President had engaged religious leaders in the establishment of a Commission on Moral Regeneration to address issues of social and moral decay. Adding that: “Christians should not remain silent when things go wrong as the Bible states, “But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life.” Also during the past week, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, as the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, received on behalf of Government a petition during the strike from representatives of organized labour critical of Government’s response to the strike. While thus showing respect for the petitioner's right to make their grievances known, Minister Masisi responded by disagreeing with the petitioner's contention that Government has in anyway been out of order in its handling of the ongoing labour action, through its efforts to assure the continued delivery of essential public services. In a separate development the Industrial Court subsequently issued an Interim Order in Government’s favour essential service employees should go back to work. The Minister also took the opportunity to thank the many public service employees who have been ensuring the operation of public services across the country during the labour action, while reaffirming that all workers who have gone on strike, but wish to return to work, are free to do so.
Building a better region through mutual respect Today H.E. the President will be hosting an official reception for the Senior National Football Team, who returned to Botswana in triumph last Friday after successfully qualifying for the 2012 African cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament. The hard kicking Zebras have surprised the world by being the first team to qualify for AFON during a winning streak that has seen them advance 65 places in the FIFA rankings. The highlight of the past week was the three day Official Visit to Botswana by the President of Malawi, Ngwazi Prof. Bingu Wa Mutharika. President Mutharika arrived on Monday morning at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, where he was greeted by President Khama, H.H. the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, and other members of Cabinet and Dignitaries. Following the arrival ceremony the two Presidents met together at the Office of the President before being joined by others for Official Talks on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, which focused on areas of cooperation. Thereafter, His Excellency hosted a State Luncheon for the visiting head of state, where he noted that that Botswana’s relations with Malawi are anchored on a foundation of mutual respect and common concerns, further stating that the two countries have collaborated in such areas as agriculture, medicine, law-enforcement, public service reforms, anti-corruption efforts. President Khama commended President Mutharika for the progress his country has made under his leadership, observing that his 2009 re-election was clear testimony of trust and confidence of the Malawian people. Also praising Mutharika for his recent Chairing of the African Union, Khama observed: “As we meet today, Africa is still plagued in some areas by conflicts which have far-reaching consequences such as loss of life, damage to infrastructure and property, creating a climate of insecurity that undermines peace and development. These conflicts are a manifestation of a deficit of democracy and lack of respect for human rights and the will of the people” further noting that “The African Union should intensify its efforts to promote democracy and good governance on the continent lest it becomes irrelevant to the plight and aspirations of the African people.” In response, President Mutharika observed that Botswana and Malawi shared common values as well as interests including their adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. The need for Africa to collectively uphold good governance was also emphasised by President Khama in a radio interview with BBC World Service, during which he strongly condemned the ongoing suffering being endured by the people of Libya and Cote D’Ivoire resulting from the unwillingness of leaders to respect the will of the people. His Excellency went on to endorse UN sanctioned efforts to protect the citizens in both countries. On Tuesday, the two Presidents travelled to Lobatse for the official opening of the new state of the art Integrated Sports Facility. In his remarks for the occasion the Malawian President observed: “this stadium is not only beautiful. It also meets international standards. I must congratulate the people of Botswana for this impressive sports complex.” He further observed that sport brought people and nations together, while providing healthy outlet for people, more especially the youth. On the same day, the Malawian President also visited the Diamond Trading Company (DTCB) with the Acting Vice President, who was pleased to share with his guest some insights into Botswana’s best practice lesson in mineral development. During the week, His Honour also hosted both a Diamond Pitso and meeting of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. Together the two events served to showcase the opportunities being created by Botswana’s steady emergence as a global diamond industry hub. At the Pitso, His Honour informed local and international delegates that Botswana’s vision is to build on past progress by • Creating an enabling environment for efficient dealing in diamonds; • Developing opportunities for rough and polished trading; • Encouraging development of diamond jewellery manufacturing; and • Facilitating development of auxiliary services to serve the diamond industry. Ongoing progress towards achieving this vision was evidenced by this week’s groundbreaking of the Pluczenik Diamond Polishing Facility, which the Acting Vice President observed was another important milestone for the country’s expanding diamond cutting and polishing industry. On Thursday, the President and acting Vice President were in Maun for a joint meeting between Cabinet and the North West District Council as part of His Excellency’s initiative to facilitate cooperation between central and local Government by taking Cabinet to the Councils. Over the past week this Office also received much positive feedback from last Friday’s Market Day at Gaborone Sports Grounds, which attracted large numbers of both sellers and consumers. As His Excellency observed in his opening remarks that the Market Day initiative will be rolled out throughout the country and to become a regular event in localities in order to bring service providers, procuring agents, and entrepreneurs together. The President further informed the opening crowd that government intended to assist 12,800 families over the next 12 months, adding that: “If all the said families are productive, there should be enough produce to sustain the Market Day initiative across the country.”
Botswana and Sweden – A Longstanding Partnership Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. Today H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will be saying goodbye to H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. His Majesty the King was in Botswana this week for a four day State Visit that further cemented the longstanding ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Botswana’s bilateral relationship with Sweden has been forged by shared values of democracy and social justice, which has been a basis for the generous developmental support extended by the Swedes to our country. The legacy of this generosity was summed up by His Excellency during Tuesday’s State Luncheon: “Let me take this opportunity Your Majesty, to express our profound appreciation to the Government and people of Sweden for the invaluable support they have availed to this country over the years. Without Swedish assistance in a number of fields, Botswana could not have made the developmental strides that it has achieved to date. Special mention should be made of the pivotal role that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) played, and continues to play, in administering many of the development projects and programmes in Botswana.” The President further noted that last year Botswana and Sweden signed a Strategy for Selective Cooperation as a demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to remain engaged and to explore new avenues of partnership. For his part, King Carl commended Batswana for the nation’s development from one of the world’s poorest countries to middle income status, further praising the country’s “unique democratic traditions”. In 2006 the King attended a Seminar on Democracy in Botswana at the Nordic Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, where then President Mogae spoke of Botswana being an indigenous, as well as constitutional, democracy in the context of culturally embedded expectations of consultation and mutual respect. As evidence of this he cited the Swedish trader Charles Andersson’s 1856 observation of the then Batawana “King” Letsholathe: “His power, though very great, and in some instances despotic, is nevertheless, controlled by senior chiefs, who, in their pitshos, their parliament, or public meetings, use the greatest plainness of speech in exposing what they consider culpable or lax in his government. An able speaker will sometimes turn the scale even against the king. These assemblies keep up a tolerable equilibrium of power between the chiefs and their king, but they are only convened when it is necessary to adjust differences between tribes...” For his part, the Swedish King also paid special tribute to the democratic leadership of nation’s first President, Sir Seretse Khama, whose 1970 visit to Sweden laid the foundation today’s special relationship; whose relevance was reaffirmed by this week’s signing of three new Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field’s of development, energy and environment. It was also observed that King Carl had previously come to Botswana back in 1976, while on his honeymoon. In this respect his partner, H.M. Queen Silvia, has also been expected this week, but was unable to come on short notice due to personal circumstance. The luncheon also attracted global headlines arising from the President’s comments on ongoing developments on the continent, more especially Libya: “The African continent still has a few leaders who oppress and brutalize their citizens to satisfy their own lust for power and greed. Let us hope that we will rid ourselves of such leaders sooner rather than later in order for there to be long lasting and meaningful development as aspired for by all the continents people. As for the on-going situation in Libya, the UNSC Resolution 1973 is well intended and should be supported by all states. Whether countries support or not the on-going military intervention in that country following on from the UN Resolution, the fact is that such action is underway and the least we can hope for from this intervention is the intended protection from brutality leading to death in many cases of Libyan citizens opposed to Gaddafi and his dictatorship, and the most we can hope for, even if not directly intended, is regime change brought about by the people of Libya themselves, that will usher in a truly democratic dispensation.” Last Friday, His Excellency also met with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsviangirai, who briefed the President on his concerns about the implementation of the SADC sponsored Global Political Agreement. Also this week This week the Acting Vice President, H.H. Ponatshego Kedikilwe was in Cape Town, where he led the Botswana delegation at the Orange-Senqu River Basin Commission, which also brought together delegates from Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa for technical discussions on sharing the common watercourse. The meeting coincided with this year’s World Water Day commemorations. During the week, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, launched and participated in a project sponsored by Dulux Botswana that over the next three years will give households in Old Naledi the opportunity to be painted in a colour of their choice. Yesterday, the Honourable Minister was also the Guest of Honour at the World TB Day commemoration, which was held at OLD Naledi.
Our prayers are with the people of Japan Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. Along with the rest of the country, His Excellency the President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama has been saddened and concerned about the tragic series of events afflicting Japan as a result of last Friday’s terrible earthquake and accompanying tsunami. In this respect he was immediately informed on Friday morning of the developing crisis and promptly communicated this nation’s prayers and condolences to the Japanese Government. While it is fortunate that Batswana residents in Japan have reportedly all been spared physical harm, we continue to monitor the ongoing developments, while admiring their fortitude of the Japanese in the face of extreme adversity. The President’s schedule this week included reconvening a special Economic Committee of Cabinet (ECC) to look further into questions of Land Policy in the interest of greater equity and efficiency in future allocations. As has been previously noted in addition to Ministers membership of the ECC includes Senior Officials and other key stakeholders, as well as Assistant Ministers, allowing for broader discussion of significant issues. It is thus one of the many consultative pillars that uphold good governance in our country. The President’s diary this week also included quarterly briefings from the Ministries of Defence, Justice and Security and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The latter allowed for consideration of the potential impact ongoing events in the region, such as the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as developments in Japan and elsewhere. During the past week, His Excellency also met with US Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, and accepted the credentials of the incoming High Commissioner for Zambia, H.E. Ms. Marina Nsingo. His Excellency expressed his appreciation to the AIDS Coordinator for America’s continued partnership with Botswana in fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS. During his meeting with Zambian High Commissioner, the President expressed his strong desire that funding for the projected Kazungula Bridge, which will directly link Botswana with Zambia across the Zambezi River, will soon be secured. In this respect High Commissioner Nsingo reported that her country has applied for external funding to facilitate its own contribution and anticipates a response in the near future. Additional visitors to His Excellency included the music artist Vee. Over the weekend, His Excellency was seen poling a mokoro in order to reach the residents of Jao, in the Okavango, as part of his commitment to personally reach out to communities throughout the country. Yesterday, he was in the Southern District, where he consulted with the inhabitants of Gooraseno, Moshane and Ranaka. On other matters, during the week the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi responded to a range of questions put to him in Parliament. In the process, he reassured colleagues of the progress being made to promote the recently established Botswana Civil Service College as a local centre of excellence for human resource development. The Minister further reported on the Coordinating Office for People with Disabilities’ ongoing success in facilitating vocational placements, while advancing its core mandate to develop and coordinate the implementation of policies programmes, strategies aimed at empowering People with Disabilities. The Minister also noted that the exercise of placement was being carried out to close temporary gaps and take advantage of existing opportunities, while the Coordinating office was working with the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs to enhance long term efforts. In response to a question about the role of Batswana women in the Second World War, Minister Masisi confirmed that Government is aware that during the conflict women throughout the then Protectorate bore a huge burden by maintaining the home-front while providing additional support for the war effort. In this respect he affirmed that: “There certainly can be no doubt that the Batswana women of that era made an invaluable contribution to the war effort. While there are currently no plans for an official commemoration of the Second World War, the sacrifices made by Batswana women during the period deserve to be remembered and honoured by this and future generations, whenever and wherever our nation’s overall participation in that conflict is considered.” The Minister also confirmed to Parliament that some of the money that was used to establish the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services in 2008 had come from an end of year surplus in the Disaster Relief Fund, which is a below the line account in the Office of the President. In the interest of transparency and accountability, he further acknowledged that officials at the time has sought authority for the expenditure from the then Minister in the Office of the President, instead of the Minister responsible for Finance and Development Planning, which would have been the correct procedure. In putting the matter to rest, the Minister apologised for the said administrative error, assuring fellow Members of Parliament that he personally viewed it as having been a serious omission which must not be allowed to occur again.
Maintaining a Legacy of Delivery Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. Today H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will be convening another of his periodic meetings with all Permanent Secretaries. These gatherings allow the public service leadership to collectively share their perspectives with His Excellency in order to gain a greater common understanding of the challenges Government as a whole faces in the implementation of its policies, programmes and initiatives, while achieving service delivery targets. On Monday, His Excellency’s week began on a high note when he joined leading Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members in celebrating the organisation’s 49th birthday. The event marked the occasion on the 28th of February 1962 when delegates from around the country came together under a large morula tree, in what was then the outskirts of Gaborone Railway station, to hold the party’s founding Congress. On that occasion, the Party elected its first executive led by Seretse Khama and Ketumile Masire, who would together go on to respectively serve as the country’s first and second Presidents. The event was hastily held at Gaborone when delegates were unable to convene at their originally scheduled venue of Mochudi due to royalist concerns about the emerging nationalist movement. In his remarks at this week’s celebration His Excellency stressed that the ruling party has retained power over decades by remaining dynamic and responsive to public concerns, while adhering to its founding principles of upholding democracy. He further paid tribute to the party veterans present, noting that they had helped lay a solid foundation for it to achieve its status as one of the most successful governing parties in the world. The President’s Monday schedule also included his chairing of Cabinet and briefings from the Independent Elections Committee and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The latter meeting focused on the Ministry’s efforts, in partnership with other Government stakeholders, to ensure commercial discipline through routine inspections, whose mandate includes making sure that the immigration status of workers is in all cases in order. Additional highlights of the week included a detailed quarterly briefing by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which focused on the ongoing progress and challenges currently facing various projects falling under the Transport Hub. Hub initiatives include such proposed mega-projects and the Kazungula Bridge and Trans-Kgalagadi railway. The President also received the latest report of the Intersectoral Committee on the Campaign against the Abuse of Alcohol Consumption, which focused on aligning local campaign efforts with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest “Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.” Yesterday, His Excellency travelled to the Kgalagadi North Constituency, where he visited the communities of Boshoek, Bray and Kokotsha. Acting Vice President In other events, His Honour the Acting Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, recently joined Cabinet colleagues and other dignitaries for the official opening of the new Sprint couriers Headquarters in Gaborone. His Honour used the occasion to encourage potential women entrepreneurs in particular to emulate the example of the company’s two founding owners, Pinkie Setlalekgosi and Michelle Gebrial, by embracing opportunities to economically empower themselves. In applauding the pair’s efforts he observed: “You have set standards for not only for other women in this country but even some men that hard work and determination pays. You have created a life for your fellow countrymen who will enjoy the fruits of your hard labour” The Acting Vice President went on to note that successful business initiatives like Sprint Couriers were key vehicles in driving efforts to fight poverty in Botswana through their creation of expanded employment opportunities and efficient service delivery to their customers. Committee of Supply Also during the week, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, presented to Parliament this year’s Committee of Supply Speech for the Ministry of State President. In presenting the Presidency’s budget the Minister underscored some of the principle achievements and challenges that his Ministry had encountered during the 2010/11 financial year. Among other things, he stressed the Executive’s determination to further stimulate the economy and reduce dependence on the mineral sector through its implementation of the Botswana Excellence Strategy for Economic Diversification and Sustainable Growth. Minister Masisi further reaffirmed Government’s commitment to vigorously move forward with the Poverty Eradication through concrete investment in the back yard gardening initiative and associated interventions. In this respect, he confirmed that Government had secured P 128 million to finance the first two phases of the initiative, which would also involve support for such activities as poultry, small-stock, fisheries, community tourism projects, handicrafts and food processing. Legislators were also informed of Government’s decision, in line with international best practice and local needs and expectations, to provide an annual subvention of P 1million to the Botswana Red Cross to assist in disaster relief. The Minister further reassured colleagues that contrary to some media commentary, that Government, through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was actively engaged in efforts to establish Collective Bargaining Structures for the purpose of creating a platform for Public Service Unions to negotiate with Government on matters relating to employee welfare (more on the Budget in our next report).
Partnering for Poverty Eradication Welcome once more to your weekly window into the Presidency. This morning His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will be visiting Old Naledi, where he will be making his own contribution to this month’s Community Service Day activities. While there he will be overseeing the donation of equipment and supplies to a voluntary pre-school serving those with needs in the community. The monthly Community Service Day has become a routine part of the work schedules for members of the political leadership as well as civil servants. Elsewhere Cabinet members will be joining civil servants working at all levels across the country in contributing towards the realisation of various additional self-help initiatives targeting the needy and marginalised, through activities that have been organised by their Ministries and departments. Led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Honourable Mokgweetsi Masisi, and Assistant Minister, the Honourable Patrick Masimolole, Office of the President (OP) staff will thus be in Morwa today, where they will be assisting a family to set up its own drip irrigation backyard garden. As with such previous OP initiatives as tree planting and facilitating partnerships to provide shelter for the needy, the Morwa backyard garden project is a manifestation of the current Administration’s wider commitment to eradicating poverty and promoting people centred development through grassroots interventions designed to help Batswana help themselves. As President Khama observed at the inaugural Pitso ya go Nyeletsa Lehuma in Mahalapye late last year: “The backyard garden gives us hope in our fight against poverty due to the fact that 80% of the type of poverty experienced countrywide is that of lack of food…Other packages being developed to augment the backyard garden include: Chicken farming, small stock, bee-keeping, cottage industries/handicrafts, backyard nurseries, handymen/women (technical and agronomy), fisheries, tourism and (food) processing.” The week that was With Parliament in session, the President began the week with an early Monday morning Cabinet meeting, followed by a quarterly briefing by the Minister and senior officials of the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources on their progress and ongoing challenges. During the briefing the Ministry was pleased to be able to report on the continued recovery, expansion and diversification in the minerals sector; ongoing efforts to secure our country’s energy needs; and continued success towards ensuring access to clean water by all Batswana. On Tuesday Senior Officials joined Ministers and Assistant Ministers in an Economic Committee of Cabinet to discuss proposals to enhance domestic land policy with the goal of ensuring more equitable access for all citizens, while overcoming the inequities caused by the speculation and land hoarding. In their divergent perspectives participants were united in their appreciation that land is a finite resource that underpins social identity and security as well as economic opportunity. In addition to Cabinet, on Wednesday His Excellency received an inter-ministerial briefing on transport issues, which focused on ensuring enhanced access to those with special needs. On Thursday his Excellency travelled to the Ghanzi North Constituency, where he toured and met with ordinary citizens at Kuke and D’kar communities before addressing a well attended kgotla meeting at Ghanzi. Last Saturday, His Honour the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, was the guest of honour at handover to Government of a state of the art Medical Clinic that was generously donated by the A.S. Dada Foundation. At the ceremony, His Honour expressed his utmost appreciation for “…this noble gesture, which will go a long way in contributing to the efficient delivery of our primary healthcare system”, further adding: “I have no doubt in my mind that the A.S. Dada Foundation and the people of Kanye have spared no effort in ensuring that this project becomes a resounding success. I hasten to add that the project of this magnitude would not have been realized, if you did not put a lot of work into it.” Over the past week the Acting Vice President, along with the recently appointed Minister and Assistant Minister, also received briefings from senior OP staff on the Offices operations, challenges and opportunities. This process will be carried forward in the coming week when senior OP staff will join the Minister and Assistant Minister in a strategic retreat. Spotlight on Former Presidents Last night privileged ticket holders attended the premier of “The African Democrat” a documentary film that pays tribute to the contributions made to this county and continent by Former President Sir Ketumile Masire. The film is the latest biographical profile by the local production company BKDS (Billy Kokorwe and Dominic Savage) Films. Meanwhile Former President Festus Mogae will also be in the spotlight today when he delivers the inaugural Claude Ake Memorial Lecture at Port Harcourt, in the Rivers State of Nigeria. Professor Ake was well known as a socially-engaged scholar as well as prolific and influential writer on democracy and development. The topic of Former President Mogae’s lecture will be - “Doom to Boom: Re-Engineering the Political Economy of the Rivers State for Citizen Prosperity: Lessons from Botswana.”
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