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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 7
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.

 

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