Office of the President (OP)
News/Press Releases
17.01.12
It is with deepest sorrow and regret that the Office of the Ombudsman announces the untimely death of the founding Ombudsman of Botswana Mr. Lethebe Amos Maine, who passed on, last week Friday (02-12-12) at his horticultural farm, situated in the Kgatleng district. The cause of his death is not yet established; Police investigations are still ongoing. Sadly, the death of Mr. Maine follows that of his successor, Mr. Ofentse Lepodise, who passed away barely two months ago. Born 62 years ago in Mafikeng, South Africa, the late Mr. Maine, was a lawyer and the very first Motswana to be appointed Acting Judge of the High Court and was appointed the first Ombudsman for the Republic of Botswana on 1st December 1997. He served two consecutive 4-year terms as the Ombudsman from December 1997 to November 2005. As the country’s first Ombudsman, Mr. Maine was faced with a mammoth task of establishing the office with no precedent. This entailed a great deal of hard work, which included much networking and benchmarking across the world. He led the Ombudsman office from an infantile stage to an institution with strategic focus by the time he left in 2005. In addition to being Ombudsman for the Republic of Botswana, Mr. Maine contributed significantly to the development of the Ombudsman Institution in Africa and abroad. He served as the President for the Africa Ombudsman Association from 2001 to 2003. He was later appointed Vice President for the International Ombudsman Institute (Africa Region), a world body for Ombudsman Institutions with a membership of over 150 countries. Mr. Maine has also served the local community as Patron of Motswedi Community based Rehabilitation Centre in his home village Mochudi. He also served in the Board of Advisers of International Institute For Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Mr. Lethebe Maine’s career as a lawyer dates back to 1974, when he started as a young State Counsel at the Attorney General’s Chambers. In 1976, he went into private practice until 1997 when he was appointed the country’s first Ombudsman. Mr. Lethebe Maine is survived by his wife, five children, his mother and seven siblings. His funeral will be held in Gaborone at Phakalane on Friday (09- 12-11). -ENDS- For more information please contact: Fenny E. Letshwiti The Office of Ombudsman Public Relations, TEL: 395 3322., eletshwiti@gov.bw
17.01.12
Transparency International (TI) formally released its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in Berlin. For the 16th year in a row, Botswana was cited as being the least corrupt country in Africa, as well as among the least corrupt countries in the world. This Office is especially pleased to note that our country’s overall score and ranking have significantly improved in this year’s survey. Botswana was ranked 32 out of 183 countries included in the 2011 survey, up four places from last year and eight places since 2009. Our country overall score this year was 6.1, up from last year’s 5.8 and the 2009 score of 5.4. Botswana's standing thus placed it well within in the top 20% of all surveyed nations, as well as above over half of the nations of Europe. In Africa, Botswana was one of only four countries to score above five, being trailed by Cape Verde (5.5), Mauritius (5.1) and Rwanda (5.0). Of the 53 African countries included in the 2011 survey 37 scored 3 or below, which according to a TI is indicative of high levels of perceived corruption. TI is the leading international non-governmental organisation devoted to fighting corruption worldwide. It annual CPI index reflects the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. It is, moreover, a composite index, drawing on a range of additional expert and business surveys. Botswana's relative success in the annual survey over the years has been attributed to the countries putting into place multiple safeguards, including the establishment of such institutions as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) and the Ombudsman, as well as its constitutionally entrenched provisions for independent oversight by the Auditor General, Parliament and the Judiciary.
17.01.12
With reference to the above, Government wishes to register its dissapointment at the disruption caused at yesterday's World AIDS Day celebrations by the Botswana Network for Ethic, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA). While Government respects BONELA's right to advocate its perspectives, while also reserving our responsibility to agree and disagree with the said perspectives as may be appropriate, we find it most unfortunate that the organisation chose to intrude in an official space during a ceremony to circulate unauthorised material without proper notification. As a matter of simple courtesy we would have expected better from an organisation that has all along been a recognised stakeholder in national efforts to combat the virus. With specific reference to some of the issues raised by BONELA. we further note the follwing: 1. Provision of condoms to prisoners to curb the spread of HIV Government remains committed to protecting prison inmates against HIV and AIDS. The position of the Government of Botswana on condoms and prisons has not changed as it is informed international as well as domestic, practice, norms and ethics governing prisons, as well as domestic law. Sodomy in prisons is simply not tolerated here or elsewhere. We would further observe that Botswana provides health care services in prisons within the confines of the Public Health Act, the Prisons Act and other relevant pieces of legislation such as the Penal Code, and the Prisons HIV and AIDS Policy. The policy environment for provision of services in prisons is guided by the Public Health Act, National Policy on HIV and AIDS and the National Health Policy. In addition to counseling and testing, prison inmates have access to TB treatment, ART, Safe Male Circumcision and Community Home Based Care. 2. Involvement of homosexuals and sex workers in all HIV interventions Government is aware that people of different sexual orientations such as homosexuals are at high risk of HIV infection due to a number of reasons. This fact alone does not suggest a wholesale reaction that will contravene existing laws and policies. In this context the provision of of HIV intervention services does not exclude anybody on the basis of their sexual orientation. With respect to BONELA's call for the Decriminalization of sex work, we wish to note that as is the case in most countries sex work is illegal in Botswana. Notwithstanding this fact, we again do not exclude anybody from our HIV/AIDS interventions on the basis of alleged involvement in sex work. Further to the above The Modes of Transmission study we conducted in 2010 tells us that new infections are more likely to occur in heterosexual relationships especially among married, cohabiting or long-term relations, estimated to be 56.4%. The study estimated that sex workers contribute 5%, men having sex with other men 5%, while injecting drug users contribute 1.5% of new HIV infections. While we have not turned a blind eye to these seemingly smaller contributions, we believe our attention ought to concentrate where new infections are likely to occur most, and that is what we have been doing. In delivering Keynote Address at the World AIDS Day in Moshupa yesterday His Excellency the President, Lt. General Ian Khama Seretse Khama reaffirmed that Government with the support of other partners has been providing services to Most at Risk Populations and ‘programming for some of these population groups is already taking place through various partners and institutions. We do this, mindful that our programmes are underpinned by the country’s laws, policies, values and moral principles’. 3. PMTCT to foreign Women expectant with Batswana men Botswana Government does not provide PMTCT to foreign women who are expectant with Batswana children since ARVs are only provided for citizens. However, there is access to PMTCT for foreign women impregnated by Batswana men at a cost. This we hold is reasonable and in keeping with international practice as well as domestic capacity. 4. Provision of foreign inmates with antiretroviral drugs for treatment to prevent the spread of ARVs. According to the National ARV Guidelines, only Batswana inmates are provided with ARVs as part of its obligation to its citizenry.As a developing country, Botswana does not have the capacity to extend free ARVs to none citizens. Government is aware that foreign inmates who are not able to access ARV treatment have the opportunity to infect those in their sexual networks with HIV including the Batswana inmates. However the need to provide to citizens first overrides the desire to extend some of these expensive services to non-Batswana. 5. Provision of refugees with ARVs Refugees and asylum seekers at refugee camps in Dukwi are being provided with ARV treatment through Non- Governmental Organizations. 6. Discrimination The provisions of the law in relation to safe working environment places an obligation on employers to ensure that discrimination and victimization of workers living with HIV do not take place at the workplace. The national HIV and AIDS policy places an obligation on employers to ensure that infected workers are not discriminated against or subjected to stigmatization. On the other hand, In the area of stigma and discrimination, Botswana has done fairly well over the years. We have seen Batswana become more tolerant and accepting of People Living with HIV and AIDS.
17.01.12
Ordinarily, the Office of the President does not wish to respond to statements made by members of the public. However, in this instance, due to the gravity of the matter, it has been found necessary to respond. This Office wishes to express its deepest regret at a statement carried in the November 30th issue of The Botswana Gazette attributed to the suspended Deputy Chief of Bakgatla, Mr. Bana Sekai about his attempts to meet with His Honour, the Vice President, Lt. General Mompati Merafhe. As a matter of fact, this Office facilitated a meeting between His Honour, the Vice President and Mr Sekai on September 15, 2011, which was postponed by Mr. Sekai himself on September 13, 2011 on the account that he had not finished preparing a “Report” he wished to present to His Honour, the Vice President. Up to this day, the “Report” has not been submitted. In the spirit of mutual understanding, His Honour, the Vice President rescheduled the meeting to September 21, 2011 at 1500 hours. Again, Mr. Sekai called on September 20, 2011 to cancel the meeting. Mr. Sekai informed this Office that he was unable to honour the appointment since Kgosi Nyalala Pilane, whom he had invited to the meeting was attending a cultural event in Moruleng. We respect the right of Mr. Sekai to express his views on matters pertaining to the unfolding developments in Kgatleng, but wish to advise him to desist from making public statements which are utterly false and unfounded. However, it is inappropriate for a person entrusted with the responsibility to make public statements which are devoid of the truth. It serves to demonstrate his lack of respect for our cultural norms and values. In this regard, this Office wishes to dismiss Mr. Bana Sekai’s utterance with respect to His Honour the Vice President as both inaccurate and disrespectful. Ends
17.01.12
His Honour the Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe will be the Guest Speaker at the commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on the 3rd December, 2011. The theme for this year’s event is “Together for a better world for all: including Persons with Disabilities in Development”. The event, which will be held at the Plateau Local Centre in Kasane, will involve several activities including performances to highlight the difficulties disabled people have in playing a full role in society and showcases to celebrate the contributions made by disabled persons as change agents in their communities. Other activities include forums with experts and disabled persons; information campaigns; and an art exhibition by disabled persons. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders; Government, the United Nations and civil society to focus on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development agenda. The Day will also provide a forum enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promoting public awareness of barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in their societies. The event is organised by the Office of the People with Disabilities in the Office of the President. The main purpose of the Office is to develop and coordinate the implementation of Policies and Programmes aimed at empowering people with disability. ENDS For further information contact: Mr Thomas Motingwa Office of the People with Disabilities, Office of the President Tel: 3958887 E-mail: ttmotingwa@gov.bw
17.01.12
Government has expressed grave concern over an incident in which Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela the second may have compromised the Government campaign against the spread of Foot and Mouth disease in Botswana. Botswana Police have reported an incident in which at three o’clock in the morning of October 26th 2011, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela refused to allow a Police Officer to search the four vehicles in which Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela and his delegation of 17 people were travelling, to be searched and inspected upon arrival at the Makalamabedi Foot and Mouth disease control gate. On being attended to at the gate, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela declared to a Police Officer that he and his delegation could not be searched because they were senior or elderly people, resulting in them passing through the Makalamabedi Foot and Mouth disease gate without their property in the vehicles being inspected and searched. Government advises that every person travelling in Botswana regardless of who they are must respect and comply with all measures intended to combat the incidence and spread of animal diseases, especially Foot and Mouth. Government says Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela’s behavior at the Makalamabedi Foot and Mouth disease gate demonstrated a character and demeanor of a person who couldn’t care less about national interests such as the security of the beef industry, upon which the majority of Batswana depend for their livelihood. In this connection Government warns that any person who behaves in a manner that threatens the national interests of Botswana will be dealt with in accordance with the full might of the law. Government calls upon all officials manning animal disease control points to take all necessary steps to ensure full compliance with all search and inspection procedures at the gates without fear or favour.
17.01.12
The Botswana Government Communication and Information Systems (BGCIS), being the body responsible for the coordination of the Government of Botswana’s Public Relations Network, is compelled to respond to the continued publication of false claims by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), which are being circulated in the context of their alleged research into “Most Open and Secretive Government Institutions” and associated “Golden Padlock Award.” For the record we wish to inform the public, both domestic and international, that MISA has never made any information request to BGCIS in the context of said research. Further to the above, we note with dismay that the MISA Regional Office in Windhoek, in a report published on its website, nonetheless claims to have recently sent the following questions to BGCIS: 1. Is the BGCIS able to carry its mandate without interference from top government officials like the Presidency? 2. How much time (number of days) does BGCIS takes to respond to questions from the media? 3. How effective is the information given out by BGCIS with regards to helping the media and other stakeholders? 4. As the central government information dissemination point, how much criticism do BGCIS get, and how much credit for doing a good job do they get? The above questions were certainly never received by us. Had we in fact received them we would have had no hesitation in answering along the following lines: 1. As BGCIS is mandated to speak on behalf of the Government of the Day it is incumbent upon us to seek information and guidance from top officials, including the Presidency, as such the question of interference does not arise. 2. BGCIS aims to achieve a turnaround response time of 24 hours or less. In 2010 our network achieved this target in 92% of recorded cases. 3. Our customers would be in a better position to judge our performance. We can report, however, that our website – www.gov.bw - remains among the local top five, while our regular press circular and other publications have combined circulations in the tens of thousands. 4. As with the previous question, it is difficult to quantify public criticism and credit for our work. We do appreciate that we do not as yet have the capacity to fully achieve our customer satisfaction milestones. Further to the above, we find it absurd as well as dishonest for MISA to accuse us being unwilling to respond to information requests such as the above. We in fact respond to numerous requests from both members of the media and the general public every day of the week. Whenever we cannot respond to a particular enquiry we say so. We further wish to note that we have in the past sent a full list of BGCIS contacts to MISA. We therefore believe that there is no reasonable excuse on MISA’s part for their false claims of having attempted to contact us. They have our cell numbers and e-mails, and should be fully aware of our physical address. We also find it hypocritical and absurd that MISA, along with their partners in slander, has also sought to make an issue out of our non-attendance of their so-called “Golden Padlock Award”. Here we wish to once more note for the record that MISA has in fact never bothered to inform us about, much less invite any member of our senior staff to, the said awards. In September 2011, as in 2010, we only discovered on the eve of their event that MISA had instead invited a number of junior PROs falling under BGCIS to attend. In this respect we make no apology for having instructed the said officers that they should not go to the event, which had been scheduled during working hours, in order to give false legitimacy to a ridiculing award based on bogus research. We also find it amusing that MISA should take umbrage at our guidance of our own staff on the above matter, when for over a decade now they themselves have promoted a boycott of the SADC Media Awards. Finally, in the interest of transparency and openness we are pleased to inform MISA that we have nominated their esteemed NGO to be the recipient of this year’s “Plastic Pinocchio Truthiness Award”. For those unfamiliar with the term, “truthiness” is defined by Miriam-Webster among others as – “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts of facts that are known to be true.”
17.01.12
Gaborone, November 15th, 2011 – The Government of the Republic of Botswana strongly condemns the recent reports of aerial bombardment of the Yida refugee camp inside South Sudan, which resulted in the tragic loss of innocent lives and injury to many. This untoward action is a flagrant breach of South Sudan’s territorial sovereignty, and it is an act of aggression which should be denounced in the strongest possible terms by peace loving-nations. We therefore urge the United Nations to institute an independent and credible investigation into the bombing of the Yida refugee camp with a view to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. South Sudan as a young nation needs the collective support of the international community as it prepares the ground for peace and sustainable development. To this end, the Government of the Republic of Botswana wishes to appeal to the international community to vigorously condemn any form of external aggression which will derail South Sudan from its development path.
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