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Office of the President (OP)
Response/Letter to the Editor to Sunday Standard
30/03/11

With reference to your newspaper's editorial of 20/3/11 ("Office of the President should be cushioned against undue influence") and with further reference to Kenneth Dipholo's column ("The office of the President is pathetic") in the same edition, this Office wishes to make a few observations.

Firstly, we fully agree with your editorial's assertion that - "The Office of the President is a national asset that should be used to unify the nation and serve us equally without favour."

Both the Constitution and the popular will of Batswana demand nothing less of us.

We are, however, at a loss in trying to appreciate the specific allegation that - "There are also certain businesses that built houses for the President's programmes were deliberately favoured by the skewed nature of the alcohol levy that was started by the President too."

Given that that the levy of 40% applies to all, we fail to understand the basis of such an allegation.

More generally we find it unfortunate that a selfless gesture such as the President's Housing Appeal for the Needy, which is already uplifting of some of our society's most disadvantaged, should along with its generous contributors, be besmirched by mere innuendo.

Further to the above, we would like to remind and reassure the public that, while no system is ever perfect, there already exist strong mechanisms to insulate this Office, and indeed other governing institutions, against undue influence. These, in particular, include the independence of the PPADB and the existence of other oversight institutions, as well as in this specific case the transparency with which the housing appeal itself is being conducted.

With respect to the issue of Presidential appeals, we would have hoped that this Office's recent public statement would have reaffirmed the fact that the Constitutionally enshrined right of Batswana to appeal to the President does not remove the parallel expectation on the part of all parties to adhere to due process as a well as follow appropriate channels. Here we would note that citizens exercising their right to appeal to the President pre-date this administration.

Contrary to your columnist's conclusion, we certainly do not see our timely reminder that people should exhaust other available option before approaching the high office as an admission of failure.

We are, in fact, aware that keeping ahead of appeals is not a unique to us, it being a significant challenge for the executive offices in most democracies. In light of this fact, we can further report that in recent months the appeals processes at Office of the President have been reviewed to ensure more efficient and effective delivery in the future. 

 

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