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Office of the President (OP)
Inside the Presidency-Issue No 9

Welcome to another edition of your weekly window into the activities of the Office of the President

The week began with President Khama engaged in an intensive round of regional diplomacy. Having returned on Sunday from his official visit to Zambia, on Monday His Excellency welcomed the arrival of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for a State Visit.  

During his own Zambian visit, President Khama paid tribute to the country’s longstanding special relationship with Botswana, a point that was underscored by his host, President Rupiah Banda, who expressed his desire that the two Governments continue to collaborate on the basis of their shared principles and values.

President Khama also lauded the fact that the trade flows between the two countries, while still modest, had been increasing in both the quantity and diversity of goods and services, as people on both sides of the border take advantage of regional market access opportunities.

The two Presidents further agreed that their respective Governments should strive speak out with one voice on issues of peace and security on the continent.
In praise of Botswana, President Banda observed that due to its prudent resource management and longstanding respect for democratic norms, Government has succeeded in raising the living standards of Batswana.

Following a ceremonial welcome at the airport, Mozambican President Guebuza’s visit to Botswana began with a private dinner at State House, which allowed for a cordial and candid exchange of views. The evening was enlivened by the BDF Traditional Dance Troupe.

On Tuesday, President Khama accompanied President Guebuza to Lobatse, where the latter officially opened the newly built Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital. 

In his remarks, President Guebuza expressed his appreciation that the hospital would serve not only Botswana but other countries in the SADC region as a training centre for specialists in psychiatric medicine, promising his hosts that Mozambique health officials would soon be contacting their Botswana counterparts.

While in Lobatse, Guebuza also visited the site where a museum honouring Mozambique’s first President, Samora Machel, is being established. The site is the location of the house where Machel found refuge in 1963, before finding his way Tanzania to join the country’s liberation movement.

Observing that "It is our responsibility to ensure that the museum goes ahead", Guebuza  said that staff from Mozambique's Cultural Heritage Archive will soon visit Botswana to look into ways of progressing the joint project. He recalled that many others - including himself in 1965 - had also passed through Botswana on their way to join the freedom struggle; adding the people of Botswana could thus be proud of their contribution to Mozambican independence.

Initially, Khama was also scheduled to escort Guebuza on a tour of the Jwaneng diamond mine, but the event was postponed to allow for the Mozambican President’s timely departure.

President Khama also had a busy week handling domestic affairs. In addition to chairing Cabinet, he was briefed by the Ministries of Lands and Housing; Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and Finance and Development Planning on their quarterly progress.

On Thursday, the President also met with officials from Botswana Volleyball Federation, to discuss their organisation’s challenges, which have been aggravated by the economic downturn. The President is the Federation’s patron.

During the week, His Excellency also joined citizens across the country in welcoming last week’s away victory by the Zebras in their Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia. Government this week urged employers to show flexibility in releasing workers who purchase tickets for this afternoon’s Zebras match against Chad.

On Wednesday, H.H. Vice President Merafhe addressed a kgotla meeting in Kasane where he informed the residents about various Government programmes and initiatives in their area designed extend economic opportunities, while eradicating poverty. Today, His Honour is expected to meet with Mr. Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, who is the Chairman of the Russian mineral company, Norlisk Nickel, which has invested in Botswana.

The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Lesego Motsumi, had her hands full attending to Government business in Parliament, which began its winter session on Monday. On Thursday the Minister was to preside over the signing of an MOU between the Botswana Bureau of Standards and National Productivity Centre (BNPC), which provides for their collaboration in the promotion of local competitiveness, but due to her busy schedule was represented by the Permanent Secretary.

Finally, during the week, the Office found it necessary to express its strong misgivings about report published in the Mmegi newspaper, which alleged that the private press had been barred from covering last Tuesday’s joint meeting between members of Cabinet and the Kweneng District Council.

Members of both the private and public press had, in fact, been given access to the opening on an equitable basis before the Council moved to go into closed session.  Unfortunately, the Mmegi reporters had arrived too late for the open session.


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