Office of the President (OP)
News/Press Releases
22.02.12
Members of the Press are hereby informed and invited to a briefing on Google Streetview, which is scheduled for 1500 hours tomorrow, to be held at the BTV auditorium. The presentation will be made by a representative of Google. Government stakeholder representatives will also be present to address questions. Our apologies for short notice of this event that was due to unavoidable circumstance. Background Google has proposed expanding its Google Streetview service to Botswana The Government has given its conditional consent for the initiative to move forward subject to various enforceable assurances with respect to protecting public privacy and security concerns as part of an overall implementation plan. The implementation plan has not as yet been finalized
22.02.12
Pattern of Malicious Personal Attacks Published in the Echo Newspaper With particular reference to the article entitled "Tebogo Masire must stick to soldiering and leave politics to politicians", which appeared in the 16/2/12 edition of your newspaper, the Government of Botswana wishes to place on record its growing concern about what we perceive to be a persistent pattern of malicious personal attacks on individuals, which are now seemingly being published on a weekly basis in your newspaper. In our view it is especially unfortunate that of late these attacks, which are of an overtly partisan character, have been targeting civil servants, who are of course non-partisan by profession. These articles contain innuendo and insult bordering on libel and even hate speech. We find this emerging pattern of wholesale slander to be socially, if not legally, unacceptable. In this respect, we hereby remind the editor and publishers of the Echo that under the laws of Botswana, as elsewhere in the world, it is they and they alone who must bear ultimate responsibility for the full content of their publication. We note that your newspaper's most recent attack on the Commander of the BDF speaks of him as having made "remarks about democracy in Zimbabwe" and further allegations that, among other things, the Commander is "groveling for contract extension" and "protecting his friends business interests". We frankly know of no basis for any of the above allegations, which are outrageous. In this respect we expect the Echo newspaper to either substantiate the said allegations or make a full apology to the Commander, in accordance with Section 5 of the Botswana Media Code of Ethics, with respect to Correction of Inaccuracy or Distortion, which provides that: "If a Media Institution discovers that it has published a report containing a significant distortion of the facts, it must publish a correction promptly and with comparable prominence. If a Media Institution discovers that it has published an erroneous report that has caused harm to a person or institution's reputation, it must publish an apology promptly and with due prominence." In addition to the above, we also wish to take this opportunity to condemn the Echo newspaper and its columnist for their further resort to personal insults and innuendo against the Commander, which appears throughout the article. Here too we shall expect nothing less than a full apology within 7 days of the date of this letter. We end by reminding the Echo and its columnist that while public figures are generally prepared to accept a certain level of public criticism, they too have rights to their privacy and are entitled to take appropriate steps to protect their integrity and reputations. Dr. Jeff Ramsay Deputy Permanent Secretary Government Communications
22.02.12
1.The Sunday Standard Newspaper of Sunday 12th February 2012 carried a story entitled "The BDF Boss Slams the West, Praises Mugabe Regime' in which it purported that the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force Lt Gen THC Masire had made statements attacking Mugabe critics, especially in the West, about Zimbabwe policies on governance, democracy and the Kimberly Process. 2. In his rebuttal the Commander indicated that his comments were confined to how the media in Africa and elsewhere has the tendency to misrepresent events or situations in Africa, including distorting the obvious and positive results such as the use of the diamonds for development and the Kimberly Process. 3. The Commander had travelled to Zimbabwe in the normal course of his duty as the Commander of the Botswana Defence Force as the guest of his counterpart, the Commander of the Armed Forces of Zimbabwe. The visit was under the auspices of the Botswana/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission to discuss matters of mutual interest relating to security, training and general cooperation between the two agencies in the interest of bilateral and regional peace and security. The cooperation between the two military organs in the two countries is exclusive of any political or business agenda and therefore he could not have expressed any political opinions or represented any business interests. 4. At a political level, Botswana has taken a proactive stand against Zimbabwe in a bid to compliment regional efforts aimed at helping Zimbabwe to return to democracy, economic prosperity, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Botswana wants Zimbabwe to assume her rightful place in the region and thus contribute to regional efforts towards achieving greater integration and economic prosperity. 5. It is against this backdrop that Botswana supports the current regional position taken at the SADC Summits held in Pretoria and Windhoek in 2009 and 2010 respectively, that sanctions on Zimbabwe should be lifted. 6. Regrettably, the political situation in Zimbabwe has not improved, despite repeated calls by the SADC Summits urging the Parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to honour their commitments in order to ensure the full implementation of the Agreement. Such commitments include, among others, the drafting of a new Constitution and its adoption through a referendum. Botswana will thus continue to urge SADC to bring pressure to bear on the Parties to the GPA to honour their commitments. 7. As a country that largely depends on diamond revenues for economic development, Botswana continues to play a key role in the Kimberly process, which serves as an important vehicle for protecting the diamond market against trading on illicit or conflict diamonds. 8. Botswana currently chairs the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Reform of the Kimberly Process. The United States of America has assumed the Chairmanship of the Kimberly Process, while South Africa serves as the Deputy Chairperson. Botswana fully supports the review of the Kimberly process, which mainly aims at improving the functioning and working methods of the Kimberly process. 9. With regard to Zimbabwe's diamonds at Marange, there has been a divergent view on whether or not Zimbabwe should be allowed to join the Kimberly process in order to export them. Botswana subscribes to the compromise solution reached which allows Zimbabwe to export her diamonds, but only after they have been certified by two monitors, namely: Belgium and South Africa.
22.02.12
As part of its monthly commitment to Community Service, the Office of the President (OP)10/02/11 leant a helping hand to two organisations in our country that are focused on assisting needy and vulnerable youth. In theafternoon H.E. the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, presented a large food donation to the “Assist A Person” or AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme. AAP is a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) that, since the year 2000, has been providing meals and day care services for children affected and infected by the HIV/AIDS scourge and additional challenges. It directly caters to the needs of over 1000 children in remote area villages, as well as at its Old Naledi Centre. Today’s donation consisted of 46 sacks of maize (50kg) along with cartons of mealie meal, canned goods, milk tea and soup, as well as other foodstuffs including sweets and biscuits. At the handover AAP founder, Mrs. Martha Rampa, thanked the President, noting that he has given material support to sustain her centre over the years. AAP Board Member Ms. Lee-Anne Bell further observed that it was fortunate to have a Government that looked after people, thanking President Khama for his personal role in mobilising public and private support for grassroots organisations serving those most in need. For his part the President praised those working in community services, such as AAP for keeping alive the values of compassion and Botho through their daily work, noting that there was no higher calling than that of providing genuine assistance to those in need. Earlier in the day OP staff, led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr. Eric Molale, were at the Stepping Stones International Centre in Mochudi for their community service. There with the support of personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), they planted fruit trees and vegetables, completing work on a new garden they have contributed to the centre. The Centre exists to provide afterschool programmes targeting orphaned and vulnerable youth from the ages 12-18, with outreach to families and the community. At a short ceremony before the planting Minister Masisi reiterated Government’s commitment to Community Service Day, in partnership with the community stakeholders and others. For her part the Founder and Executive Director of Stepping Stones, Mrs. Lisa Jamu, commended Government for taking the initiative to establish and promote backyard gardens as a means of reducing poverty through self sustenance while encouraging entrepreneurship. [The full text of Mrs. Jamu's remarks is reproduced below] Community Service Day initiative was officially launched on the 5th November 2010 by His Excellency the President together with Cabinet Members. The purpose of this Day is to uplift disadvantaged communities; revive the spirit of compassion; and contribute to sustainable development. Each Ministry is thus expected to set aside one day each month to give back to the community. ALSO- REMARKS BY LISA JAMU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/FOUNDER STEPPING STONES INTERNATIONAL FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE DAY 10 FEBRUARY 2012 [Salutations]…Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, friends "Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." - Henry David Thoreau The Bakgatla community and Stepping Stones International recognized and had faith in the “seeds” of youth and started operations in the district in December 2006. The afterschool and outreach program we provide for orphaned and vulnerable youth ages 12-18+, nurtures their mental, physical and emotional well-being and creates realizable opportunities for them to bloom and become self-sufficient. The SSI programme, comprised of four core components, psychosocial support, life skills, leadership and advocacy and community mobilisation, lends to cultivating youth to find the leader within themselves and to achieve their dreams. A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers. Today, I commend the Botswana Government for taking the initiative to start these backyard gardens as a means to reduce poverty, encourage entrepreneurship and afford the opportunity for self-sustenance. You are making the dreams of many come alive. The initiative of the Office of the President to plant an irrigated garden for the youth at SSI is a testimony to how socially responsible collaborative efforts from the government, private sector, and institutions can achieve an impact on the lives of youth. In this case, the land was provided by the Catholic Diocese of Gaborone; person power, technical expertise, supplies and this event were provided by the Office of the President and the Ministry of Agriculture; the FACET foundation through SAFDICO provided the support for the leadership program which grooms the youth who will care for the garden; a company in the community, Mochudi Hardware provided the gate for the garden and SSI provides the quality programming to guide the youth. These collaborative alliances emit the warmth, the water and the fertilizer to nurture our youth to grow into flourishing and productive members of society. What grows in the garden is more than the vegetables and flowers but people. The hard work that has taken place over the past week and the planting that will take place today represent the seeds for nutritional food and the growth of our youth and community. We have recently measured the body mass index of our youth and found that 25% of them are underweight. The garden will afford SSI the opportunity to improve nutritional intake of our youth. Furthermore, the youth will learn more about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, managing a business, nutrition, agriculture and serving the community through this project. Finally on a macro-scale this project is a stepping stone to achieving Vision 2016. In particular the community service demonstrates “A compassionate, just and caring nation” and the garden itself and gardeners highlight “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation.” Stepping Stones International appreciates the planning, effort and innovation that has been injected into the project. It is often said that a garden will not grow if there is no love, therefore to show our appreciation, I want to assure the Office of the President and all our collaborators that this garden will thrive and produce wonders. SSI creates an environment of love for the youth and in turn the youth pass it on to caring for the garden and their community.
22.02.12
The Permanent Secretary to the President is pleased to announce that His Excellency the President has decided to appoint and some Senior Government Officials as follows: 1. Mrs Festina S. Bakwena has been appointed as Ombudsman with effect from the date of assumption of duty; 2. Mr. Carter Nkatla Morupisi has been appointed on promotion to the post of the Director, Directorate of Public Service Management with effect from 1 April 2012; 3. Mr. William Seatle Keobame Moncho has been redeployed to the Office of the Ombudsman as Deputy Ombudsman with immediate effect. 4. Mr. Dikagiso Bogatsu Mokotedi has been appointed on promotion to the post of Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology with effect from 1 April 2012; 5. Mr. Ulf Soderstrom has been appointed on promotion to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology with effect from 1 April 2012; 6. Mr. Kgopotso Ramoroka has been appointed on promotion to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary (Support Services) in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with immediate effect; 7. Dr Omponye C. Kereteletswe has been redeployed as Secretary, Education Reforms in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with immediate effect; 8. Ms Taboka Nkhwa has been redeployed as Secretary, Local Government Reforms in the Ministry of Local Government with immediate effect; 9. Mr. Acros News Maseko has been appointed on promotion to the post of Director, Regional Operations (Chobe) in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with effect from the date of assumption of duty; 10. Mr. Oupa T. Masesane has been appointed on promotion to the post of Director, Regional Operations (North East) in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with effect from the date of assumption of duty; 11. Mr. Simon Coles has been appointed on promotion to the post of Director Basic Education in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with immediate effect; and 12. Mr. Leonard Muthetho has been appointed on promotion to the post of Director Special Support Services in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development with immediate effect (Signed) Eric M. Molale PERMANENT SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT
22.02.12
On Monday 6th February, His Excellency President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, departed for the Berlin for an Official Visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, at the invitation of the Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, arriving safely later in the day. Since his Excellency’s departure, H.H. the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe, has been serving as Acting President. While in Germany, President Khama will hold talks with Federal Chancellor Merkel and the President of the Federal Republic, H.E. Mr. Christian Wulff. President Khama is also expected to meet Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundstag (German Federal Parliament), Federation of the German Industry, and attend a presentation on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. President Khama is being accompanied during the visit by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Phandu Skelemani; Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, the Hon. Kitso Mokaila; and Trade and Industry, the Hon. Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, as well as senior Government officials. Also expected in Germany as part of the President's delegation are officials from BEDIA, Innovation Hub, Health Hub, and Botswana International Financial Services Centre The visit is expected to boost Botswana-German bilateral cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, environment and tourism. The President and his party are expected back in Gaborone in the evening of 9th February 2012.
22.02.12
The Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, was interviewed today by Xinhua (New China) news agency on Botswana’s efforts to promote economic diversification and eradicate poverty. Much of the interview focused on Botswana’s relative success in reducing the number of its citizens living below the Poverty Datum Line, from 59% in 1986 to 20% in 2010, and Government’s current campaign to eradicate abject or absolute poverty. During the interview, the Minister attributed past progress to Botswana investment of the proceeds of its mineral wealth into the social sector, including health and education. He further explained that the current Poverty Eradication campaign was especially focused on interventions to assist the approximately 45,000 Batswana who are now living in abject poverty to get on their feet. In this respect he noted that abject poverty was locally measured by such indicators of deprivation as malnourishment, further affirming that food poverty was a critical challenge. Masisi stated that in forging ahead with its people centred development agenda, Botswana was eager to learn from the success of others, such as China, which in recent years has moved some 300 million people out of poverty. It was further noted that in both countries abject poverty is mostly found in remote rural areas. On South-South issues, Masisi observed that win-win trade in areas such as coal exports to China could have a significant impact in the further reduction of poverty in the developing world. In this respect he welcomed the current African Union summit theme of Intra-Africa Trade, as well as Sino-Africa economic partnerships in the context of the Forum of China Africa Cooperation. Other topics covered during the interview included Botswana’s ambition to become a global diamond centre and the need for self-reliance in obtaining food security.
22.02.12
Office of the President wishes to register its disappointment at the publication in latest (26/1/12) edition of your newspaper of an article which by its own admission on the basis of gossip carried the blatantly false, as well as in its context insulting, claim that State House is built on land belonging to the Khama family. Government dismissed this calumny when it first surfaced last year. Here we further note the simple truth that ownership of the said land, which is State Land, is a matter of both contemporary and historic public record dating back to the 1890s. There can thus be no good excuse why your paper, along with your columnist, should persist in publishing what amounts to malicious disinformation. Thank you. Dr. Jeff Ramsay
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