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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 3 of 2012


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).

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