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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 8 of 2011

Facilitating Diversification through Private Initiative

Welcome once more your weekly window into the Presidency.  Today His Excellency the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will travel to Nata, where he will attend the opening of the 13th Congress of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s Women’s Wing.

Following the Labour Day holiday, His Excellency resumed his normal schedule of weekly Cabinet meetings and progress briefings from line Ministries.

This week the President was briefed by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST). Among the topics highlighted at the briefing was next week’s 6th Annual IST-Africa (Information Society Technologies in Africa) Conference and Exhibition, which the Ministry will be hosting from May 11-13th at the GICC.

The international conference, which has the support of the European Union as well as corporate sponsorship from Mascom, Botswana Post and CISCO, will be an opportunity for local ICT companies and researchers to forge beneficial partnerships with others in the region and beyond. It is further expected that the gathering will focus on areas of collaboration in applied ICT research such as e-Health, e-Government and Digital Libraries.

The IST-Africa Conference thus dovetails with Government’s overarching efforts to promote economic diversification by facilitating private initiative, with an emphasis on Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises. 

During the week, His Excellency also resumed his schedule of kgotla engagements. On Wednesday and Thursday he toured the Barolong Constituency, where he listened to the aspirations and concerns of residents in Leporung, Phitshane-Molopo, Mmakgori and Dikhukhung villages.

As the Barolong meetings were already on the President’s schedule it is not true, as has been reported in elsehere, that he postponed a requested meeting with opposition party leaders on issues related to the recent strike by some public service. As we go to press alternative arrangements are under consideration.
With respect to the strike, Government welcomed last Friday’s decision by the Industrial Court to maintain its earlier temporary interdict forbidding public sector workers in essential services such as health and fire fighting from striking. Through the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Government further noted that as the strike by essential employees remains illegal and interdicted, all public sector employees engaged in essential services should immediately return to work.  

In a separate statement DPSM also reminded the public that Government as the employer, had taken the decision at the beginning of the strike to apply the ‘No Work No Pay Rule’ for every public officer participating in the strike. As a result DPSM will effect deductions from salaries for each employee’s period of participation in the strike from the current month of May.

It was also announced this week that the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr. Eric Molale, has appointed Mr. Abraham Keetshabe as General Counsel in the Office of the President with immediate effect. As General Counsel Mr. Keetshabe will be serving as the Office’s chief legal advisor and resident attorney.

The Presidency has been previously served by a Chief State Counsel. Mr. Keetshabe higher title reflects of the enhanced level of law related issues he is expected to handle. It may also be noted that, contrary to a press report, Mr. Keetshabe has not been appointed as a "Special Advisor"

Mr. Keetshabe brings to his new position a wealth of professional experience and achievement. Immediately prior to his current appointment he has served as the Deputy Attorney General and Government Attorney.

H.H. the Acting Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe’s engagements during the week included his launching of this year’s Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) Conference and Fair, which was held under the theme: “Exploiting Existing Opportunities – A Strategy for Economic Diversification”.

The event is sponsored by Government, through the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) to give impetus to SMME as drivers of economic diversification. Statistics indicate that SMME’s already account for 32% of the job market and a growing percentage of the nations GDP.

His Honour informed the audience that the Government, through LEA, has been able to provide the necessary interventions for SMMEs in the form of outreach programmes for constructive partnerships with the private sector, including the signing of 13 Memoranda of Understanding the other organisations aimed at facilitating improvements to the business climate of SMMEs.

H.H. the Acting Vice President was also the keynote speaker at the Lions Club District 412 Convention held at Selebi-Phikwe, which brought together delegates from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as Botswana. In his remarks he noted that in an era of budgetary constraints the voluntary contributions of service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs, along with businesses is all the more welcome. 

He further observed that it is fitting that the Convention coincided with initiatives such as the President’s recent launching of Pitso Ya Nyeletso Lehuma and Market Day.

While in Selebi-Phikwe His Honour also commended the Badikolobe Piggery cooperative for its ongoing efforts to establish a meat processing centre in the town with the support of the Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU). 


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