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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 11
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.

 

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