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Office of the President (OP)
H.E. the President's Christmas and New Year's Message
17/01/12

1. My fellow citizens, with the Holiday Season now upon us it is a renewed pleasure for me to once again wish you all a most pleasant and safe break from life’s routine, while enjoying the company of family and friends.

2. Living as we do in challenging times, many of us have come to welcome this end of year break as a time to relax and rejuvenate; as we also reflect upon the journey we have travelled over the past months and the opportunities that lie before us. When we gather together across generations, may we be further reminded of our debt to our elders, for bringing us to where we are, along with our own responsibility to build a brighter future for those who will follow in our footsteps.

3. By any standard 2011 has indeed been a challenging year for all of us. Continued economic volatility, combined with the need to control spending, had an impact on our family budgets as well as the public finances of Government. We were thus confronted with circumstances, not always of our own making, which required us to make difficult decisions. In the end we had no choice but to do more with less.

4. During the year there emerged differences of opinion about wage increases in the public sector.  It is in our nature as Batswana, as well as the proud citizens of a free republic, to approach matters from diverse perspectives. This shall continue to be a source of strength for us as long as we also continue to put the long-term interests of our country as a whole ahead of any sectional and short-term desires.  Due to the economic outlook for the coming year we will be facing the same challenges as we did this year that will leave the Government with very little or no options at all on various  demands as was the case during this financial year.

5. The need for us to work together is all the more imperative given the competitive nature of today’s global environment. Over the past twelve months we have continued to experience the negative aftershocks of the global economic downturn, notwithstanding our own country’s still ongoing recovery.

6. While we can hope for economic growth in the coming year, the extent of our progress will be subject to external market conditions, which unfortunately remain uncertain. As I have previously stated, the possibility of a second downturn in key external markets is now likely.  Whatever the outcome it is clear that next year will be another year of belt tightening.
 
7. We can, in this respect, at least take comfort in the fact that the sacrifices that we have already made have not been in vain. As I said we have begun to achieve more with less, a trend that we can and must sustain.
 
8. Our relative success so far is clear evidence of our collective ability to make further progress in achieving our common goal of a more prosperous and productive society where all Batswana can live in dignity.
 
9. This very month we received the initial results of the Botswana Core Welfare Results Survey, which report a further significant drop in our poverty level. This news confirms that we have the capacity to achieve our ultimate goal of eradicating absolute poverty from our society altogether. As we count our blessings let us therefore reflect on how we may assist the less fortunate among us, while building upon our own good fortune.

10. This month we also received the news of our nation’s continued progress in fighting corruption, as reflected in our improved score and ranking in Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. This too should encourage us in our efforts to build a fairer and more just society.

11. Let us therefore usher in 2012 with shared confidence, knowing that we have the collective capacity to build upon what we and our forebears have already achieved. This will be accomplished if we each make our own New Year’s resolution to be all that we can and should be, for ourselves, our families, community and country.

12. In the coming year let us also continue to celebrate in the successes of our fellow citizens, such as the sports men and women who have been flying our flag high in international competitions. We are all, of course, already sharing in the excitement of the Zebras appearance in next month’s AFCON tournament.

13. For many of us Christmas will always be a time of new beginnings, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; giving thanks to him who brought heavenly grace to our humble lives. But, no matter what our faith, we can all carry something of the Christmas spirit with us throughout the coming year.

14. Finally, as I always say, please exercise restraint. As we travel, there will be a lot of traffic on our roads and sadly there will be those among us who risk themselves and others through their impatience and overindulgence. Let us not allow drunken or reckless behaviour to turn this time of joy into one of sorrow and grief. Let us rather exercise discipline both on and off the road so that we can all look forward to many Holiday Seasons to come.
 
15. May I wish you, your families and friends a very happy Christmas as we look forward to the New Year with optimism and hope. God bless.

 

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