Office of the President (OP)
News
29.07.10
Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into the Presidency. After a month in which His Excellency the President’s busy diary included a series of high profile regional engagements, this past week’s schedule was devoted almost exclusively to domestic projects. At the same time, His Honour the Vice President continued his latest round of international diplomacy, shifting from his successful goodwill tour of China to standing in for His Excellency at the Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Kampala, Uganda. At the AU, His Honour attracted international as well as domestic appreciation for his steadfast defence of the International Criminal Court as an instrument that is reflective of the values, interests and aspiration of its 30 African member states, including Botswana. For his Excellency, much of Monday through Wednesday was occupied by Cabinet deliberations. When Parliament is in session, Cabinet meets regularly on Monday, as well as Wednesday, mornings to advise the President. In addition, on Tuesday, an Economic Committee of Cabinet or ECC was convened to take stock of the progress being made by the Education, Innovation and Transport Hubs. Included under the Transport Hub are initiatives to upgrade and expand Botswana’s rail network, which would better link the northern and southern states of SADC, as well as Botswana to the eastern and western coasts of Africa. In this respect concern was expressed over apparent bureaucratic delays in advancing the potential trans-Kgalagardi rail line to the dry port facilities that have been leased by Botswana at Walvis Bay. As has been previously reported, the ECC is attended by senior officials and additional stakeholders, as well as Ministers and Assistant Ministers. This is to allow His Excellency to benefit from a wider range of perspectives on such critical issues as promoting economic diversification and abolishing absolute poverty. Tuesday’s ECC also received a report from the National Strategy Office (NSO) on the challenges and opportunities being encountered in the implementation of the Business Economic Advisory Council’s (BEAC) strategy for sustainable economic growth through diversification. Given the weight of the issues raised by the NSO, His Excellency closed the meeting by directing that a special ECC session be convened next month that will focus entirely on overcoming outstanding obstacles to the strategy’s implementation. His Excellency’s decision was consistent with consensus that, in the context of ongoing economic recovery, it was critical for Government to recommit itself to economic and administrative reform measures designed to ensure an enabling environment for economic diversification and citizen empowerment through expended private sector opportunities. At its core the BEAC strategy of economic empowerment through excellence is predicated building a more open economy that enable Batswana to embrace global opportunities. During the week, His Excellency also received quarterly Ministerial briefings from the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. The Agriculture briefing took note of the need for urgent remedial actions to turnaround the Botswana Meat Commission in order to protect the interests of ordinary livestock farmers as well as the corporation’s continued mission as the primary exporter of Botswana beef to the global market. During the later part of the week His Excellency embarked upon a series of kgotla meeting in the Tati East Constituency, touring the villages of Mosojane, Nlapkwane, Mapoka and Moroka. The meetings afforded His Excellency the opportunity to hear local community concerns. Prominent among the issues raised were the burden of illegal immigrants, and complaints about the state of roads in the area and a lack of maintenance of many schools. These concerns were duly noted by the responsible Ministers accompanying His Excellency. On a lighter side, during the week His Excellency also received a courtesy call from Miss Universe Botswana, in the process wishing her well as her preparations to become the second Motswana to capture the global crown. Today, His Excellency will receive a Special Envoy, Ambassador Goran Vujicic of Serbia. Thereafter he will host a luncheon in Honour of retiring High Court Judge Tebutt, which will be highlighted by His Excellency’s bestowing of the Presidential Order of Honour on the Judge in recognition of his efficient and devoted service to Botswana. During the past week Government also took the opportunity to dismiss recent media suggestions that it was somehow failing to implement court orders in two disputes involving some trade unions. While once more noting that the principal dispute remained before the High Court, and was thus undecided and sub judice, the statement further reiterated Government’s respect for the rule of law and consequent commitment to comply with all judicial decisions.
23.07.10
The Presidency wishes to thank the nation for ensuring that the just ended Presidents’ Day Holidays were safe and secure. Members of the public exhibited responsible and mature behavior on our roads and we believe that the peace and tranquility that we are known for was the order of the day. On Tuesday, His Excellency the President was amongst many that attended the activities of the President’s Day celebrations where deserving individuals and groups were rewarded with awards and prize money. President’s Day activities are dedicated to celebrating the beauty of our cultural heritage as Batswana. The activities included traditional dance and song, drama, poetry, comedy, traditional instruments, choral and contemporary music, national arts, baskets and crafts. The number of participants in all categories has since 2008 seen an increase as the nations’ artists, both known and unknown, compete for recognition in the display of their artistic mastery and prowess. Resuming duty on Wednesday, His Excellency’s schedule was not particularly hectic. Highlights of the week included the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs’ quarterly ministerial briefing and Cabinet meeting that included a visit to the National Museum and Art Gallery to view an art exhibition on display. Meanwhile, His Honour the Vice President left for Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China on Monday 19th July on a three-day official visit at the invitation of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. During the visit, Vice President Merafhe will officiate at the Botswana Fair of the ongoing Shanghai Expo 2010 which is being held in China, and also hold a series of meetings with Chinese Government and the Chinese Business Community. The Vice President is accompanied by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Dorcus Makgato-Malesu, senior government officials and BEDIA representatives. From China, the Vice President will proceed to Kampala, Uganda where he will attend the 15th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) from 24th to 27th July. The summit is expected to discuss among other issues, the appointment of members of the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights; Report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Review of the AU scale of assessment; transformation of the African Union Commission into an African Union Authority as well as administrative and budgetary matters. Vice President Merafhe is expected back home on the 28th July 2010.
16.07.10
Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into the activities of the Office of the President The week began with President Khama engaged in an intensive round of regional diplomacy. Having returned on Sunday from his official visit to Zambia, on Monday His Excellency welcomed the arrival of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for a State Visit. During his own Zambian visit, President Khama paid tribute to the country’s longstanding special relationship with Botswana, a point that was underscored by his host, President Rupiah Banda, who expressed his desire that the two Governments continue to collaborate on the basis of their shared principles and values. President Khama also lauded the fact that the trade flows between the two countries, while still modest, had been increasing in both the quantity and diversity of goods and services, as people on both sides of the border take advantage of regional market access opportunities. The two Presidents further agreed that their respective Governments should strive speak out with one voice on issues of peace and security on the continent. In praise of Botswana, President Banda observed that due to its prudent resource management and longstanding respect for democratic norms, Government has succeeded in raising the living standards of Batswana. Following a ceremonial welcome at the airport, Mozambican President Guebuza’s visit to Botswana began with a private dinner at State House, which allowed for a cordial and candid exchange of views. The evening was enlivened by the BDF Traditional Dance Troupe. On Tuesday, President Khama accompanied President Guebuza to Lobatse, where the latter officially opened the newly built Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital. In his remarks, President Guebuza expressed his appreciation that the hospital would serve not only Botswana but other countries in the SADC region as a training centre for specialists in psychiatric medicine, promising his hosts that Mozambique health officials would soon be contacting their Botswana counterparts. While in Lobatse, Guebuza also visited the site where a museum honouring Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel, is being established. The site is the location of the house where Machel found refuge in 1963, before finding his way Tanzania to join the country’s liberation movement. Observing that "It is our responsibility to ensure that the museum goes ahead", Guebuza said that staff from Mozambique's Cultural Heritage Archive will soon visit Botswana to look into ways of progressing the joint project. He recalled that many others - including himself in 1965 - had also passed through Botswana on their way to join the freedom struggle; adding the people of Botswana could thus be proud of their contribution to Mozambican independence. Initially, Khama was also scheduled to escort Guebuza on a tour of the Jwaneng diamond mine, but the event was postponed to allow for the Mozambican President’s timely departure. President Khama also had a busy week handling domestic affairs. In addition to chairing Cabinet, he was briefed by the Ministries of Lands and Housing; Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and Finance and Development Planning on their quarterly progress. On Thursday, the President also met with officials from Botswana Volleyball Federation, to discuss their organisation’s challenges, which have been aggravated by the economic downturn. The President is the Federation’s patron. During the week, His Excellency also joined citizens across the country in welcoming last week’s away victory by the Zebras in their Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia. Government this week urged employers to show flexibility in releasing workers who purchase tickets for this afternoon’s Zebras match against Chad. On Wednesday, H.H. Vice President Merafhe addressed a kgotla meeting in Kasane where he informed the residents about various Government programmes and initiatives in their area designed extend economic opportunities, while eradicating poverty. Today, His Honour is expected to meet with Mr. Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, who is the Chairman of the Russian mineral company, Norlisk Nickel, which has invested in Botswana. The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Lesego Motsumi, had her hands full attending to Government business in Parliament, which began its winter session on Monday. On Thursday the Minister was to preside over the signing of an MOU between the Botswana Bureau of Standards and National Productivity Centre (BNPC), which provides for their collaboration in the promotion of local competitiveness, but due to her busy schedule was represented by the Permanent Secretary. Finally, during the week, the Office found it necessary to express its strong misgivings about report published in the Mmegi newspaper, which alleged that the private press had been barred from covering last Tuesday’s joint meeting between members of Cabinet and the Kweneng District Council. Members of both the private and public press had, in fact, been given access to the opening on an equitable basis before the Council moved to go into closed session. Unfortunately, the Mmegi reporters had arrived too late for the open session.
09.07.10
Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into the activities of the Office of the President The week began with President Khama engaged in an intensive round of regional diplomacy. Having returned on Sunday from his official visit to Zambia, on Monday His Excellency welcomed the arrival of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for a State Visit. During his own Zambian visit, President Khama paid tribute to the country’s longstanding special relationship with Botswana, a point that was underscored by his host, President Rupiah Banda, who expressed his desire that the two Governments continue to collaborate on the basis of their shared principles and values. President Khama also lauded the fact that the trade flows between the two countries, while still modest, had been increasing in both the quantity and diversity of goods and services, as people on both sides of the border take advantage of regional market access opportunities. The two Presidents further agreed that their respective Governments should strive speak out with one voice on issues of peace and security on the continent. In praise of Botswana, President Banda observed that due to its prudent resource management and longstanding respect for democratic norms, Government has succeeded in raising the living standards of Batswana. Following a ceremonial welcome at the airport, Mozambican President Guebuza’s visit to Botswana began with a private dinner at State House, which allowed for a cordial and candid exchange of views. The evening was enlivened by the BDF Traditional Dance Troupe. On Tuesday, President Khama accompanied President Guebuza to Lobatse, where the latter officially opened the newly built Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital. In his remarks, President Guebuza expressed his appreciation that the hospital would serve not only Botswana but other countries in the SADC region as a training centre for specialists in psychiatric medicine, promising his hosts that Mozambique health officials would soon be contacting their Botswana counterparts. While in Lobatse, Guebuza also visited the site where a museum honouring Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel, is being established. The site is the location of the house where Machel found refuge in 1963, before finding his way Tanzania to join the country’s liberation movement. Observing that "It is our responsibility to ensure that the museum goes ahead", Guebuza said that staff from Mozambique's Cultural Heritage Archive will soon visit Botswana to look into ways of progressing the joint project. He recalled that many others - including himself in 1965 - had also passed through Botswana on their way to join the freedom struggle; adding the people of Botswana could thus be proud of their contribution to Mozambican independence. Initially, Khama was also scheduled to escort Guebuza on a tour of the Jwaneng diamond mine, but the event was postponed to allow for the Mozambican President’s timely departure. President Khama also had a busy week handling domestic affairs. In addition to chairing Cabinet, he was briefed by the Ministries of Lands and Housing; Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and Finance and Development Planning on their quarterly progress. On Thursday, the President also met with officials from Botswana Volleyball Federation, to discuss their organisation’s challenges, which have been aggravated by the economic downturn. The President is the Federation’s patron. During the week, His Excellency also joined citizens across the country in welcoming last week’s away victory by the Zebras in their Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia. Government this week urged employers to show flexibility in releasing workers who purchase tickets for this afternoon’s Zebras match against Chad. On Wednesday, H.H. Vice President Merafhe addressed a kgotla meeting in Kasane where he informed the residents about various Government programmes and initiatives in their area designed extend economic opportunities, while eradicating poverty. Today, His Honour is expected to meet with Mr. Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, who is the Chairman of the Russian mineral company, Norlisk Nickel, which has invested in Botswana. The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Lesego Motsumi, had her hands full attending to Government business in Parliament, which began its winter session on Monday. On Thursday the Minister also presided over the signing of an MOU between the Botswana Bureau of Standards and National Productivity Centre (BNPC), which provides for their collaboration in the promotion of local competitiveness. Finally, during the week, the Office found it necessary to express its strong misgivings about report published in the Mmegi newspaper, which alleged that the private press had been barred from covering last Tuesday’s joint meeting between members of Cabinet and the Kweneng District Council. Members of both the private and public press had, in fact, been given access to the opening on an equitable basis before the Council moved to go into closed session. Unfortunately, the Mmegi reporters had arrived too late for the open session.
02.07.10
Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into the activities of the Office of the President. Tomorrow H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will officially open the 46th Zambian International Trade Fair in Ndola. His Excellency was invited to officiate at the event by his Zambia counterpart, H.E. President Rupia Banda. The event will be a welcome opportunity for President Khama to underscore the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between the two countries, which blossomed during the early years of independence. At the time the river border between Botswana and Zambia at Kazungula was this country’s only geographic link to the rest of free Africa, as Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were then still under white minority rule. Today the two countries look forward to the prospect of Kazungula achieving new prominence as a transport hub through the construction of a road and rail bridge across the Zambezi. In a week when we celebrate the legacy of our first President, we are further reminded that the seeds of friendship between the two countries were planted by Seretse Khama’s 1964 visit to soon to be independent Zambia, where he forged an enduring partnership with Kenneth Kaunda. The special relationship that then emerged under the auspices of these two great statesmen gave rise to the Front Line States, which subsequently evolved into today’s SADC. In other international engagements, on Monday, His Excellency received a farewell call from the Netherlands Ambassador. The President thanked the Ambassador for the continued cooperation support Botswana receives from Netherlands, much of which is filtered through Dutch membership in the European Union. In recent years the Dutch have also signed bilateral agreements on the promotion and protection of investments. On Tuesday the President, along with other members of Cabinet met jointly with members the Kweneng District Council in Molepolole. The consultation, like earlier joint meetings held with the Francistown and Gaborone City Councils, afforded the Cabinet Ministers and Councillors with an opportunity to share ideas and examine government policies, programmes and projects, while considering proposals on how best the local authorities mandate could be enhance to better serve their constituents. During the meeting Cabinet was briefed on a range of local concerns including bottlenecks to achieving greater decentralization, problems of waste management, and a desire to move forward with deferred projects once the country’s financial position improves. Funding for orphan care and applications by the state for land at Ledumadumane and Molepolole Bus rank were some of the additional issues which were prioritised. In his opening remarks, the President urged Local Authorities to identify schemes that could generate income for the needy and called for greater private sector involvement in this endeavour, in order to severe dependence on Government. Contrary to the miscommunications appearing in some of the press, private as well as public service media practitioners were able to cover the Molepolole, as well as Gaborone, consultations on an equitable basis. In this respect this Office has consistently disassociated itself from statements suggesting that the press would not be so treated. On Wednesday the President took time off to distribute donations on behalf of the Lady Khama Charitable Trust for which he is the patron. Some of the beneficiaries who were invited to attend the ceremony included Botswana Red Cross, SOS, Bana Ba Metsi, Fying Mission, and Sponsor –a- Child Trust. During the week this Office also responded to one newspaper’s allegation that H.H. the Vice President had “mislead Indian Investors” about Botswana willingness to welcome genuine outside investment in the local film industry, which should not be misconstrued to necessarily mean Government funding for outside film projects. Readers may recall that the MmaRamotswa series was filmed in Botswana after its producers were given, not without controversy, financial incentives to film here. Government has reaffirmed its support for the establishment of a Film Commission. An attempt was made to appoint an interim Board for such a Commission last year, which unfortunately failed to receive appropriate applications. A Feasibility Study has also been carried out on ways in which Botswana might become more film friendly through various financial and other incentives. While this issue is being followed up it should be understood that Government’s capacity to assume new financial responsibilities has been limited by the need to meet the pressing demands of the economic downturn. For its part the Botswana Tourism Organisation has also stepped up to the plate with its own assurances that they will be able to facilitate services at subsidized rates to film crews interested in filming there. During his recent visit to India H.H. the Vice President held what turned out to be very encouraging discussions with Film & Television Producers Guild of India and Board Members of the Film City. The Bollywood invitation came about after the visit earlier this year of the Indian Vice President, who was impressed by the visual splendour of Botswana.
24.06.10
H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, returned from Maputo, Mozambique today where he joined other regional leaders in attending 35th Anniversary celebrations of Mozambique’s liberation from colonialism and fascism. The visit underscored past and present cooperation between the peoples of Botswana and Mozambique. During Mozambique’s liberation struggle a number of prominent freedom fighters, including the country’s late first President Samora Machel found refuge in Botswana. This week it was announced that the two countries are making good progress in ongoing efforts to establish a rail link. Domestically, the theme of people centred development was highlighted on Saturday when his Excellency travelled to Damochujenaa village in the Central District to open a number of community driven development projects. In remarks for the occasion, His Excellency commended community stakeholders at Damochujenaa, particularly the Lions Club, for demonstrating their commitment to the time honoured national principle of Ipelegeng or self-help, noting that in seeking to build a better nation as conceived in Vision 2016, communities should not look upon Government as the sole provider of everything. He observed that while there were certain things that Government could and would provide, in other areas it had created an environment that enabled communities like Damochujenaa to better themselves, adding that: “There is therefore a need to harness this potential; there is a need for awareness creation and sensitization to our people of the development challenges that require our participation and commitment, especially among religious and civic leaders, women, the youth, the village leadership, and indeed everybody to put the development of this settlement on a sustainable path.” Amongst the development projects commissioned were the Sedibe Primary School, Kgotla office, a bus shelter and thirteen low income houses. Earlier, in remarks at the BDP Youth Congress, His Excellency had also highlighted the importance of engaging the youth: “Situating Youth development at the centre of our national development program remains critical. My government continues to be committed to empowerment of the youth through various economic empowerment programs. These programs of which you all are aware by now, are continually monitored to see if they make the intended impact and any deficiency noticed remedied accordingly.” On Sunday, His Excellency accompanied by the Minister of Education and Skills Development, the Honourable Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, toured Mmopane village where his interactions included conveying his condolences at a bereavement. Whilst making the rounds, the President was also briefed about village concerns over water shortages. On Tuesday morning, the President attended the Economic Committee of Cabinet, which considered the 17th Progress Report of the Cabinet (Sub) Committee on the Economy and Employment, which is chaired by His Honour the Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe. The report focused on the Agriculture, Health and Diamond Hubs, Mmamabula Energy Project, and Government’s commitment to Eradicate Poverty. In his opening remarks at the meeting, H.H. the Vice President stressed the need for stakeholders to refocus their efforts in achieving more in the context of necessary cutbacks, a point that was further echoed by His Excellency. With specific reference to austerity measures in the UK and elsewhere, the President observed that the challenges Botswana faced had a global dimension but would be overcome through local commitment. It is anticipated that as the economy continues to recover the specified initiatives contained in the national strategy of economic diversification and growth through excellence will gain momentum. In other events during the week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had the opportunity to brief His Excellency on issues pertaining to its ministry. International engagements also included a visit by a delegation of Russian Parliamentarians to the Office of the President, where they were received by His Honour the Vice President. On Thursday morning, His Excellency and Cabinet Ministers attended a meeting with Gaborone City Council Councilors. This encounter like the one also recently held at the Francistown City Council, afforded the Cabinet Ministers and Councillors with an opportunity to share ideas and examine government policies, programmes and projects, while considering proposals on how best the local authorities mandate could be enhance to better serve their constituents. As promised in previous communications, members of the private as well as public service press were able to cover the opening of the meeting. Following continued misdirected allegations of a so-called media blackout by Government, the Office issued a further press release outlining the reasons for restricted coverage of Cabinet proceedings. The Office also found it necessary to refute a farfetched allegation that the suspension of a member of the press from the President’s travelling party to Cuba following allegations of misconduct, compromised the editorial independence of the newspaper concerned.
21.06.10
On Sunday H.E. the President returned from his State Visit to Cuba to face a busy week full of international as well as domestic engagements. The week began with His Excellency hosting the current SADC Chairperson and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Mr. Joseph Kabila. The Congolese President arrived on Monday for a two-day working visit tothe SADC Secretariat. While in the country President Kabila also met with President Khama and toured the new DTC Botswana building. Noting that his country was a major exporter of diamonds, the Congolese President expressed his appreciation and support of Botswana’s efforts to establish itself as a regional diamond centre. On Monday, the President also received a Special Envoy, the Hon. Daudi Migereko, who had come on behalf of Ugandan President and current African Union Chair, H.E. Yuweri Museveni. Monday also marked the beginning this week’s royal visit to Botswana byT.R.H. Princes William and Henry of Britain. In the afternoon, Prince Henry was the special guest of this year’s Queen’s Birthday tea party at the residence of the UK High Commissioner, an event whose distinguished guests included H.H. the Vice President. In the evening His Honour also hosted an official dinner for President Kabila. On Tuesday, His Excellency delivered a statement at the official opening of the ceremony of the Botswana Police Service 39th Annual Senior Officers Conference at the Special Support Band Wing Hall, in which he commended the Police Service for their improved performance in fighting crime despite limited resources coupled with the effects of the global economic crisis. The President went on to encourage the Service to review current strategies and come up with implementable solutions to further curb crime. Botswana’s crime fighting success was recently highlighted in its ranking as one of the world’s most peaceful countries. In the afternoon the President received a courtesy call by the Princes, as part of a schedule which saw the two royals visit a number of Tusk Trust projects at Maun and the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Gaborone and Maun. The Tusk Trust, of which Prince William is a patron, is a conservation and environmental education charity organisation. Prince Henry also launched the British Council’s 2010 Reading Challenge at Mophane Primary School in Gaborone. The aim of this initiative is to encourage reading for pleasure amongst school going children. Also on Tuesday, H.H. the Vice President flew to New Delhi, India to begin a four-day visit, which also took him to Mumbai. During his visit His Honour met with the country’s political leadership, investors and potential investors as well as members of the Bollywood (film) fraternity. The visit is a reciprocal one after the Indian Vice President, H.H. Hamid Ansari visited Botswana in January of this year. Much of the President’s schedule for Wednesday was taken up by Cabinet, while Thursday’s activities included a Presidential walkabout in the Gaborone North Constituency, furthering his consultation process with the public. This morning, His Excellency will attend the Botswana Democratic Party National Youth Wing Congress at Maharaja Conference Centre, which will run for the entire weekend. It is expected that a new committee will be elected following the resignation of some of its members. On Saturday, His Excellency will officially open Mmadinare Constituency projects at Damuchejenaa village. The Presidency responded to a number of media questions during week, among other things affirming that the President is entitled to invite non-Government guests to join him on his external trips, including, as has been the practice, private journalists. In this respect, the Office was obliged to confirm that a journalist who had been nominated to accompany His Excellency to Cuba had returned home following alleged misconduct; an incident that is under investigation. Another incident resulted in a private sector journalist being barred from a photo-op during the President’s meeting with the two Princes, due to an unfortunate communications breakdown. In light of the above incidents, the Office of the President wishes to reaffirm its commitment to work with journalist from the private as well as public sector. In this respect the Office has further affirmed that the private press will be welcome to cover this coming Tuesday’s meeting of Cabinet Ministers and Councillors, contrary to a media report.
15.06.10
On Saturday, 5 June 2010, His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama attended the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation fund raising dinner, whose proceeds will go towards the control and elimination of childhood cancer. The Foundation aims to transform the young lives of those afflicted with cancer. His Excellency arrived in Cuba on Monday, 7 June 2010 where he was received by Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Vice Minister, Marco Rodriguez Costa. President Khama’s programme started with the laying of a wreath at the bust of Cuban National Hero, Jose Marti. Thereafter, His Excellency held a meeting with his Cuban counterpart, President Raul Castro. Botswana and Cuba have enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations for more than 30 years. Accompanying Ministers of Health Dr John Seakgosing and Minister of Education and Skills Development Mrs. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi also had an opportunity to discuss issues pertaining to their respective Ministries. Among issues high on the agenda were challenges resulting from the global financial crisis, and to enlist further support from Cuba. On Thursday, 10 June His Excellency left Cuba for Chicago USA to attend the Annual Conservation International Board of Directors’ meeting. Conservation International is a nonprofit making organization whose mandate is to ensure empowerment of societies on responsible and sustainable conservation and preservation of nature. President Khama has been a member of Conservation International for over a decade. His Excellency the President and his entourage are expected to return home on Sunday 13 June 2010. Meanwhile at home, the Acting President Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe was on Tuesday 8 June 2010, amongst dignitaries and members of the public who thronged the decoration ceremony of Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe by the Japanese Ambassador to Botswana, Ryoichi Matsuyama. The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun was conferred on Dr. Chiepe on behalf of His Majesty, the Emperor Akihito in recognition of her contribution to fostering bilateral relations between Botswana and Japan, both in her capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs. She was also lauded for her significant advocacy role and support in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) initiative. TICAD is an international forum for the development of Africa which started its engagement with the continent in 1993. On Wednesday, 9 June 2010, the Acting President chaired the 19th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economy and Employment where he noted that the economy of Botswana has been able to weather the effects of the global financial crisis. The Acting President highlighted the fact that Botswana has started to benefit from commodity prices and increased demand for rough diamonds. However, he cautioned that whilst the outlook is fairly positive, the broad stimulus budget which has played a part in the growth of the non-mining sector is not sustainable in the medium to long term. The Acting President called on the Hubs and Ministries to work as a team to identify innovative strategies and aggressively pursue diversification initiatives and development of the Hubs as contained in the Botswana Excellence Strategy.
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