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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 7 of 2011
29/04/11

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.

 

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