USA/Africa Dialogue, No 679: Botswana's Weekly Report

Republic of Botswana (7/5/05)

TAUTONA TIMES no 16 of 2005
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President

"After taking the chairmanship of the Party, the Vice President
committed himself to healing the rift and divisions among us.  He has
now been backing his words with action by coming up with initiatives
that seek to bring about unity. We all must support him. My appeal is
that we go to the 2009 general elections not to play but to win. Our
entire future is hanging in the balance. As Party leaders we should stop
worrying about positions and rather help to form a strong Party, and the
time is now." - H.E. the President [D]


A. A week of commemoration and remembrance
B. Press Schedule
C. The Week That Was
D. Keynote address by H.E. the President at the opening of the         BDP
Women's Wing Congress
E. OP Press Office Forwarding:

1) 3/5/05: H.E. the President's Meeting with Vice-President of the
Republic of Ghana, His Honour Alhaji Aliu Mahama
2) 7/5/05: Keynote Address delivered by the Botswana Confederation of
Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) President, Mr. M.I. Ebrahim, at
the World Press Freedom Day commemoration in Gaborone
3) Additional notes and forwarding

A. Remembering the future, commemorating the past:

Welcome to this week's edition, which comes at the end of a working week
in Botswana that was shortened by both the annual Worker's Day and
Ascension Day public holidays.

The past week also marked the 60th Anniversary of the fall of Berlin,
which singled the end of the Third Reich. This historic event was
locally marked by the opening of an exhibition at the National Museum
and Art Gallery, which focuses on the contributions of both Soviet and
Batswana troops in the struggle against Nazi racism and oppression. The
exhibition is being sponsored by the Embassy of the Russian Federation
in conjunction with the Museum.

Over 10,000 Batswana fought in North Africa and Italy during the Second
World War, which in per capita terms is believed to be the highest
enlistment rate of any then British Imperial territory. A number of
surviving Batswana war veterans were among those who attended the

The gathering was also reminded of the over 27 million citizens of the
former Soviet Union who perished in the conflict, the greatest number
from any nation, as well as the sacrifices of others around the world.
Various speakers, including the Russian Ambassador, H.E. Igor S.
Liakin-Frolov, and the Hon. Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Maj.
General Moeng Pheto, used the occasion to affirm the value of
remembrance as a basis for building global peace and understanding.

For the media fraternity in particular, the past week also coincided
with World Press Freedom Day, which was the subject of last week's
comment. Included in section "E" of this week's circular is the text of
the keynote address delivered at today's Gaborone commemoration by the
President of BOCCIM, Mr. Ebrahim. The various views expressed in the
address are, of course, those of the individual and not necessarily this
Government. In this context, I trust that diverse readers will find them

- Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Press Secretary to the President (7/5/05)

Contacts: Office Telephone: (267) 3975154 & Facsimile: (267) 3902795.
Cell: (267) 71318598. E-mail: &

B. Press Schedule:

As always the events listed below, which represent only those parts of
H.E. the President's schedule open in whole or part to press coverage,
are subject to change. When possible and necessary, updates will be
forwarded. Members of the Press are also encouraged to contact the
sponsors of the various events listed below for further programme
details and possible updates.

Sunday (8/5/05): In the evening, from 20:00, H.E. the President is
scheduled to attend the Botswana-Ghana Expo Charity Gala Dinner Dance at
the GICC. Members of the Press are further advised that the event
coincides with Mother's Day.

Monday (9/5/05): In the morning, from 8:30 am, H.E. the President will
officially open the Fifth African Regional IVETA (International
Vocational Education and Training Association) Conference at the Mowana
Safari Lodge in Kasane. The theme of the conference is "achieving
poverty reduction through relevant quality vocational education and
training in partnership with industry." More information on the
associations local and regional activities can be found on the following
websites: and

Tuesday (10/5/05): In the morning, at 10:00 am, the Prime Minister of
the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Rt. Hon. Pakalitha Mosisili is scheduled to
arrive at SSK International Airport to begin a two day official visit.
The arrival ceremony will be shortly followed, from 11:30 am, by the
holding of Official Talks between the two leaders and their officials at
the Office of the President. In the evening, from 19:00 H.E. the
President and the First Lady will host a State Banquet in honour of the
visiting Prime Minister of Lesotho at the Gaborone Sun Conference

Thursday (12/5/05): In the morning, at 8:00 am, H.E. the President will
Chair a meeting of the High Level Consultative Council at the Pavilion,
Fairground Holdings. As usual Members of the Press are invited to cover
the opening remarks and are further reminded to be punctual.

In the afternoon, from 15:00, H.E. the President and the Rt. Hon. Prime
Minister of Lesotho will hold a Press Conference at the Mass Media
Complex. Thereafter they will depart for SSK International Airport for
the Prime Minister's departure ceremony.

Tuesday (17/5/05): In the morning H.E. the President of Namibia, Mr.
Hifikepunye Pohamba is expected to arrive for an official visit (further
details to follow).

In the afternoon, at 16:00 H.E. the President is scheduled to receive a
courtesy call by a delegation of visiting German legislators at the
Office of the President

Saturday (21/5/05) - Thursday (26/5/05): H.E. the President will make an
Official Visit to India, during which he is also scheduled to attend and
address the International Diamond Conference in Mumbai (further details
to follow).

Friday (27/5/05): In the evening, from 19:30, H.E. the President is
scheduled to attend the Tshole Trust Dinner at the GICC.

Monday (30/5/05): During the day H.E. the President is scheduled to
depart for the U.S.A., where he is to receive a major international
award (further details to follow).

C. OP Press Coverage Highlights of the Past Week

Monday (2/5/05): H.E. the President enjoyed the public day off following
Worker's Day

Tuesday (3/5/05): In the afternoon H.E. the President met with the
Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, His Honour Alhaji Aliu Mahama
at the Office of the President [E 1].

Wednesday (4/5/05): In the afternoon, H.E. the President gave an
exclusive interview to journalists from Helsingin Sanomat, which is the
most widely circulated newspaper in Scandinavia. The interview covered
various current "hot potato" issues.

Thursday (5/5/05): On the morning of the Ascension Day Public Holiday,
the President officially opened the BDP Women's Wing Congress in Mochudi

Saturday (7/5/05): In the morning, H.E. the President attended the
annual Prisons Day events at the Prison Staff College in Mahalapye.

D. Keynote Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic, Mr.
Festus G. Mogae, in his capacity as President of the Botswana Democratic
Party, to the National Congress of the Botswana Democratic Party Women's
Wing at Mochudi (5/5/05)

Party Chairman and Vice President, Lt. Gen. S K I Khama;
The Chairperson of the National Women's Wing Committee, Hon MP
Botlogile Tshireletso and Members of your Committee;
The Chairperson of the National Youth Executive Committee, Mr. Peter
Meswele and Members of your Committee;
Members of the Central Committee;
Secretary-General of the African National Congress of South Africa
Women's League, Ms Bathabile Dlamini
Chairpersons and Secretaries of all Party Structures;
Distinguished Guests;
Dear Democrats;

1.        I am honoured once again to be given the opportunity to interact
with the BDP Women's Wing at this important event in their calendar of
activities. I am happy that there are increasing numbers of women in
leadership positions.

2.        The Women's wing congress provides a platform for analyzing
obstacles and opportunities for women leaders, exploring new leadership
and gender frameworks, enhancing communications, mentoring, networking,
and sharing personal, organizational and community experiences.

3.        Today's gathering therefore presents a unique opportunity for
you, participants, to share knowledge and leadership experience and to
enhance strategic networking and information- sharing on your
advancement and empowerment.

4.        Director of Ceremonies, the success of our Party depends on
inclusive leadership models that leverage the potential and experience
of all its human resources. The full and active participation of women
in leadership is a pre-requisite for positive change and development in

5.        We're certainly making a difference to the women of our country.
In this Parliament 3 women were specially elected to Parliament and all
of them are ministers as I speak. For the first time we have a Woman
Deputy Speaker and a Woman Chief Whip.

6.        Although our Party does not subscribe to the 30 percent quota
system, Democrats will recall, that in my address to the Selibe Phikwe
women's congress, I urged the women folk of our Party to embrace
Bulela-ditswe (primary elections system) because it afforded them the
opportunity to increase their representation at all levels of national
elective office.

7.        Your response was indeed positive but inadequate, because
although I was happy to note an increase in the number of women
contestants in Bulela-ditswe, your numbers were not large enough.
Although a great many who stood did not win national elections, I want
to encourage you not to despair but to increase your numbers at every

8.        As there are more women voters than men voters, the fact that
many of you lose either Bulela-ditswe or national elections, would
appear to indicate insufficient or deficient mobilization of women
voters on your part.  You are aware that while I support women
candidates, during polling, my advocacy must of necessity be somewhat
muted for fear of dividing the Party.

9.        Our system does not, as it does in our sister Republics of
Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, permit either me or the Central
Committee to increase the women candidates outside the primary
elections.  We do not have a Party list, nor the right of the President
to appoint some candidates and later make direct appointments to
Parliament as they do elsewhere.  We only have the four
specially-elected Members of Parliament by Parliament after nomination
by me and other Party leaders and even ordinary MPs.

10.        As a government we continue to support women.  Recently of the
103 nominated Councillors 40 of them are women representing or rather
constituting 39% of the nominated Councillors. Indeed there is room for
improvement but we must commend the Minister of Local Government for
this. As a party we will continue to strive to create an enabling
environment that permits women to attain positions in political decision
making institutions.

11.        And since we introduced a new law on marital powers, we have
helped nearly all of our women folks. But of course there is more to do.
And in the next five years we want to give more families more choice and
more support through Vision 2016.  That is the difference between us and
opposition parties who are against Vision 2016, at least those of them
who say they do not support it.

12.        It must be noted that the Women's Wing Regulations 5 and 6 have
been amended in line with the Resolution of the Selibe Phikwe Congress
in 2003.  The clause that permitted male members of the Party to vote as
per their official positions has been repealed. It was an anomalous
situation that in a Women's Wing Congress, whose purpose is to promote
women's political, economic and social empowerment, male delegates could
vote.  Ruth Motsete once told a United Nations meeting in Tanzania, on
the empowerment and role of women in development, that the meeting,
which was attended in the majority by men, reminded her of a conference
of cats discussing the welfare of rats.

13.        The new regulations will be tabled at the National Congress in
Serowe in July. Only then will they be operational. This is very
interesting because our male folks have today what we may call their
"last supper".  It will be the last time here in Mochudi that men will
vote in a BDP Women's Wing Congress.

14.        This is indeed historic and it goes a long way in showing our
commitment to empowering women. I hope the youth wing could copy their
mothers' initiative and also change their rules and regulations such
that only young people could vote at their congresses.

15.        Director of Ceremonies, now that the dust has settled over the
bickering of Bulela-Ditswe results, the party has to solidify its
support base ahead of the country's 10th elections in 2009. Accepting
that the Party's popular vote decreased during the 2004 elections, we
have to build a strong support base and the onus is on all of us to
bring unity into the Party. It is a serious test for democrats. Firstly,
we have to show that charity begins at home by welcoming with open arms
those who do not see eye to eye with us in the Party.

16.        This will be a bold step to pave the way for the much-needed
unity which is in short supply as evidenced at the last elections when
some democrats voted with the opposition.

17.        After taking the chairmanship of the Party, the Vice President
committed himself to healing the rift and divisions among us.  He has
now been backing his words with action by coming up with initiatives
that seek to bring about unity. We all must support him. My appeal is
that we go to the 2009 general elections not to play but to win. Our
entire future is hanging in the balance. As Party leaders we should stop
worrying about positions and rather help to form a strong Party, and the
time is now.

18.        The way you are going to conduct your affairs throughout this
congress will go a long way in helping to cement the foundation for
continued peace in our Party. It is incumbent upon you as the women of
the Party to embrace the concept of healthy competition amongst
yourselves without mudslinging and maligning others who might want to
contest elections.

19.        I encourage you to continue with your initiative of helping the
under-privileged, through your annual contribution to the Masiela Trust
Fund and building houses for the needy.  This spirit should continue and
grow, but please do not lose sight of the fact that the Party is facing
financial difficulties, hence you should come up with better initiatives
of sustaining yourselves.  The Party Treasurer mentioned at the recent
National Council meeting in Gaborone that the Party wings are now
increasingly turning to the main Party for funding, this tendency must
not continue, I know you have the ability to generate money for
yourselves, please use it, the Party needs support from you.

20.        Go out and mobilize your troops in the branches because it is
only when they are up and running effectively that the Party can stand
on its feet and be a power with which to reckon.  I mentioned at the
National Council that this Party is so precious and the country needs
it, therefore we should harness our human and material resources to work
for it with renewed conviction.

21.        I wish to once more challenge you to help me and my government
in the fight against HIV/AIDS, even though many Batswana are now going
for testing there are still many more who are lagging behind.  As the
Women's Wing of the ruling Party you should be at the fore front of this
fight encouraging other women and young people to test and also enrol on
the ARV programmes when they test positive.

22.        It is common knowledge that women and children are the most
vulnerable groups, hence I challenge you to work hard to change this
reality if as a nation we are to achieve some of the goals of Vision

23.        As a Party in government we have developed schemes aimed at
alleviating poverty amongst Batswana, we therefore need you as mothers
of the nation to mobilize and teach our people to take advantage of
these programmes.

24.        Finally, let me challenge you to support each other in all
spheres of life, be it in politics or other endeavours.  Stand up and
encourage more women to stand or run for positions of influence, in
politics and in the business world.  By so doing you will be helping
your government in its drive to empower women.

25.        In government we have many women holding senior positions, such
as Permanent Secretaries, their Deputies, Directors, etc, but it is
still not enough.  It is upon you to encourage women to acquire skills
for them to be competitive, in that this is a world of competition.
Although there has been progress, much still needs to be done in taking
practical steps to realise Party unity. These efforts need to be carried
out by all people concerned.

26.        In conclusion let me wish you well in your Congress and
encourage you to be level headed in your discussions if you are to come
up with meaningful resolutions.  I wish to see renewed commitment to
peace and prosperity for the Party and country.  You must not only talk
the talk but walk the walk as womenfolk.  The Women's Wing bears a
special responsibility in contributing to the change of attitudes.

27.        The salvation of Domkrag lies primarily with BDP members
themselves. Optimism must become our virtue and widely disseminated
psychological trait, even in the face of challenges.  Regardless of what
our detractors say or do, democrats themselves must never lose faith in
their own capacity and ability to change the course of events, to
achieve the willed future for themselves.

28.        Having said this I now have the pleasure of declaring this
Congress officially opened. Domkrag belongs to all Democrats!

E. OP Press Office Forwarding:

E 1) 3/5/05: Today's meeting at the Office of the President with
Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, His Honour Alhaji Aliu Mahama:

This afternoon, the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, His Honour
Alhaji Aliu Mahama, paid a courtesy call on H.E. the President, Mr.
Festus Mogae, at the Office of the President. The Hon. Minister of
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe
also attended the meeting, along with senior officials from the two

H.H. Vice President Mahama began the meeting by conveying the regrets of
his President, H.E. Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, for having had to cancel
his planned State Visit to Botswana on short notice. Vice President
Mahama noted that the cancellation had been due to unexpected
developments, most notably the ongoing political unrest in the
neighbouring state of Togo, which had resulted in an influx of refugees
into Ghana.

Vice President Mahama also informed President Mogae that President
Kufuor still hoped to find time in the future to come to Botswana. He
further noted that his coming to Botswana, to represent his President
was indicative of the significance of they attached to Ghana Botswana
Expo 2005, which he had come to officially open. He further said that so
doing he had come to champion the need for Africa to take the lead in
doing business in Africa. He observed that while there had been a lot of
talk about inter-African trade and investment over the years this had
been translated into too little in the way of action. He however
expressed his confidence that the Ghana Botswana Expo 2005 would prove
to be a practical showcase of the collective potential of partnership
between the nations and regions of the continent.

Vice President Mahama further noted that in addition shared history and
a common vision for the African Union the nations of the continent faced
the same fundamental challenges, most notably the need to overcome
poverty and disease.

For his part President Mogae affirmed that he very much looked forward
to hosting his brother leader, President Kufuor, as soon as it was
mutually convenient. He also spoke about the human ties that have long
bound the two countries together, paying special tribute to some of the
Ghanaians who had contributed their personal expertise in assisting
Botswana in its development efforts. Mogae also spoke fondly of some of
his own experiences in Ghana during the 1970s [when he was Alternate
Governor for Botswana at the International Monetary Fund, African
Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development and subsequently the IMF Executive Director for Anglophone

In further discussions the two leaders took note of some of the common
challenges effecting sectors of their respective countries economies, as
well as the continent as a whole.

Vice President Mahama will be opening the Ghana Botswana Expo on
Wednesday morning at Boipuso Hall. The Expo will continue through Sunday
the 8th of May. Its theme is "Promoting Investment and Integration
through Trade and Culture."

According to its organizers: "For the African Union to become relevant
and the New Partnership for African Development to become real and
meaningful, Inter African Trade and integration in Africa must be put
high on the agenda, hence the Expo."

E 2) 7/5/05: Keynote Address delivered by the Botswana Confederation of
Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) President, Mr. M.I. Ebrahim, at
the World Press Freedom Day commemoration in Gaborone whose theme was:
"Freedom of Expression & Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)".

For the benefit of local media reproduced electronically below is the
text of a keynote address delivered by the Botswana Confederation of
Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) President, Mr. Iqbal Ebrahim,
at today's World Press Freedom Day commemoration, which was held at the
BTV amphitheatre in Gaborone. The various views expressed are of course
entirely those of the author and not necessarily those of the Government
of Botswana.

[Start of Document]

Thank you for honouring BOCCIM by inviting me to be your Guest at these

I believe that the invitation is made because you believe that BOCCIM as
a Private Sector Organization should be in the forefront to galvanize
efforts to encourage Foreign Direct Investments into Botswana.

BOCCIM has been labelled as the 'Voice of Business' because of  its
chosen mandate to advocate for and to promote an environment that is
conducive to private sector development, free of Government control and
bureaucratic bottlenecks, with transparent and clearly defined laws and
regulations which govern business. We believe that the role of the
Government should be limited to that of a facilitator. We further
believe that there should be full and integrated citizen economic
participation in all sectors of the economy. In brief that is the
mandate of BOCCIM and I am grateful that you have given me this free
advertising space to promote my organization.

By accepting the invitation friends warned me that I was walking into a
lions den and said that either I was very brave or just being foolhardy.

Brave because I was facing people whose job in essence is to challenge
the written or spoken word especially what is between the lines and
unspoken; foolhardy because I would be talking to people who will
dissect every word, every line and sentence and give their own
interpretation to it depending on their slant, interest or opinion, be
it political or otherwise. My words could be used as missiles against me
by those who did not agree with me or worse still my message would be

Personally, I would walk into the lions den to state my case. For any of
you who might be lions; I hope that you have had a good meal recently.
But even then I still find it intimidating.

>From what I have to say I do not expect you to agree with me or to take
my word on faith, but I expect you to evaluate it and reach your own
conclusions. What I want to do is to start a debate to address these
issues which are larger than us, our personal interests or our fears.

Botswana has been rated very highly regionally and internationally in
virtually every investment index as a favourable destination for foreign
and domestic investments. We have also scored highly in most areas of
human, social and economic development. However I am not here to boast
of our achievements but to question our failures.

That being said we have to ask why we not been able to attract the right
mix of investments and why we have not been able to sufficiently grow
our economy away from its' over reliance on diamonds. Why is this so and
why have we not made sustainable progress in diversifying our economy?

There are various reasons for it but the major one is that we do not
have a comprehensive clear cut and well defined policy to address these
issues. We seem to prefer fighting bush fires on a daily basis, reacting
to situations almost on an instalment basis.

There other reasons are our high cost of inputs, small markets, poor
business acumen, unfriendly business policies and attitudes, a labour
force that is not sufficiently productive, bureaucratic delays and
bottlenecks, the list goes on and on and has been well documented
through BOCCIM interventions at all levels.

Let me now pick up on your theme for today: "Freedom of Expression and
Foreign Direct Investment". The theme suggests a link and that
investment tends to shy away from countries that are seen to be
repressive and also curtail the freedom of expression.

Every western Government or lending agency that deals with the so called
developing countries promotes this mantra. There is a check list that is
supposed to contain perquisites for any investments. Among the issues
they have stressed on are the more obvious ones; democracy, freedom of
expression, a free market system, adherence to good governance, personal
freedoms, macro economic stability, the rule of law, human rights, anti
corruption, an efficient and independent judiciary; the list goes on and
I am sure you are familiar with the issues.

Botswana has fulfilled most of these 'obligations', we still have areas
of imperfection and are lagging in some instances but nonetheless as a
general rule of thumb, we have made great strides and can stand proudly
in the top bracket. Despite this I still don't see any of those elusive
investors falling over themselves to invest in our dear country. Have
you? What are we doing wrong or what more can we do? Amidst these
conflicting signals let me be cynical and say that fulfilling these
obligations and prerequisites is no guarantee for investment flows.

I want to challenge these perceptions because why do we see investments
cascading to countries that do not fit this bill. Let me give you my
theory so that you follow my logic and ask yourself why China has
managed to attract more than half a trillion Dollars in FDI and has for
the past ten years had an annual growth of 10%? Closer to home why is it
that Angola, Mozambique, and the oil producing states of West Africa and
of the Arabian Peninsula attracted so many investments yet we all know
that they have less than perfect systems? Malaysia and Singapore are for
want of a better word 'controlled democracies' yet they have managed to
attract blue chip and flagship western investors.

The cheap producing nations of south East Asia are now the production
centres for most of the name brand goods that are available in the world
market. The result is that jobs are being exported daily from the high
cost producing countries to the low cost centres resulting in positive
investment flows for them.

I can assure you that if you took the time to do a little research on
the situation prevailing in some of these countries, you will come to
the same worrying conclusion that those countries have less than perfect
systems and many of them rank much lower than Botswana in terms of the
so called 'conditions suitable for investments'. Freedom of expression
in some of these countries is almost non existent. Yet they attract a
vast proportion of international FDI. The question is why them and not

I put it to you: business, investments and money will only gravitate to
where they can reap a good return on investments and where they are made
to feel welcome. They do not deal in idealism and romanticism but in
making money. Those that deal in romanticism are in the Valentine day
card manufacturers.  Big businesses in the developed countries seem less
interested in some of the cherished ideals than in the quest for
maximizing their returns. Those noble and cherished ideals take second
place as investors eye the bottom line returns. My sad conclusion is
that while we were busy watching the ball we had already lost the game.
Why because while we are always busy dotting the 'I's' and crossing the
'T's' in the process we missed the big picture. Think about it.

So are we just romanticizing and being idealistic wanting to create the
perfect conditions for ourselves whilst the world goes about beating us
at every corner? Does the world really care about 'freedom of
expression' as a prerequisite for foreign investment? Or is it one big
con? I am beginning to have grave doubts if there is sincerity in those
benchmarks set for us.

I have placed my thoughts before you so that you take a look beyond the
obvious and hopefully help us with solutions. To answer the question
that my theory may have generated, does that mean that I do not
subscribe to the notion of freedom of expression and all the other
ideals? The answer is NO.

I have read some background papers from MISA and of a presentation paper
on Media and Good Governance on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day,
Dakar, Senegal. This document touches most of the issues such as human
rights, the rule of law, transparency and accountability and other
important issues. I subscribe to them and I do not think there is anyone
who can find serious fault with them. But the trick is to ensure that
those sentiments become part of our daily lives and not remain as mere

One of the main topics I am sure that is of particular interest in is
the one dealing with 'freedom of expression'. I must profess at the
onset that I am not an academic nor do I believe I have the answers to
the ongoing debate, but I can use the occasion to exercise my rights
under the 'freedom of expression' to give you my own personal views.
Some the views I express may not mirror the views or the consensus of
some of the BOCCIM membership, but in essence we all agree on the
premise of 'freedom of expression' because without it we as BOCCIM would
not be holding the open and frank dialogue with the Government regarding
issues of national concern.

Freedom of Expression is a relative term because we each have our own
interpretation on the extent of it depending on which side you are on.
If you are expressing it you want the term to be applied fully, but if
you are on the receiving end of it you may wish to draw an invisible
line. I have a personal belief which may not meet with the approval of
some people.  I have been brought up to believe that the rights and
liberties of society outweigh the rights and liberties of an individual
but that I should have the right to disagree. We must protect those
rights and views as in 'the minority must have a say but the majority
have the way'.

Tswana tradition and custom endorses this freedom because we have idioms
such as 'mmua lebe a bue lagagwe' and 'mahoko a kgotla a mantle othle'.
Even then complete freedom may not necessarily exist because cultural
and traditional norms draw an invisible line as to the extent of those
freedoms. Therefore each society has or even sets its own limits to the
freedom it enjoys. Whilst some may consider this as normal there are
some who may take this as an infringement on the liberties of free

There is a worrying trend worldwide including in those countries that we
have always viewed as role models. In recent times freedom of speech is
being eroded very subtly as special interest groups control and take
over sections of the media to promote their own agenda and objectives.
Those groups have varied agendas from financial, right wing neo
conservatives, religious, leftist, environmentalist and a plethora of
other ideologies. Unfortunately in their haste to nail their colours to
the mast, they tend to ride roughshod over any views that are seen to be
contrary to their chosen agenda. As a result the truth always suffers
because most of the time there are three sides to an argument; the two
opposing views and the truth.

Getting back to Foreign Direct Investment I believe that one of the
major contributory factors to the lack of inflows is that we are in part
to blame because we have become our own worst enemies. I know that some
people may take offence and express righteous indignation to what I am
about to say but I believe that the truth is sometimes bitter to swallow
especially when it is directed at ourselves.  Let me be straight to the
point we Batswana are beginning to exude such negativity about
ourselves, our nation and everything Botswana that we are actually
beginning to believe that our country is rotten and that there is no
future for our nation. All of us are actors and players in this tragedy
and the blame lies squarely at our own doorstep.

Since I travel regionally and abroad, I am fortunate that I get to meet
with people from all walks of life, from the ordinary man in the street,
to high powered business people, to politicians, to diplomats, to
legislators, journalists, you name it and I get to meet them somehow.
In the nature of things I usually steer the discussions towards
investments and Botswana. I am beginning to get very worried about the
opinions that others hold of us.

At first I took great offence and it hurt me to listen to the negative
things they said about us but I thought about it and I started to
realize that maybe there is some truth in what they may say no matter
how unpalatable.

Most of them say that Botswana is a fantastic country but regrettably we
are becoming xenophobic and loosing our friendliness and welcoming
nature. They tell us that we do not show national pride because we keep
running down our nations' successes and development efforts. Unlike
elsewhere where people distinguish between what is a 'national' issue
and what is a 'political' issue we tend to lump everything together in
one big stew. As an avid reader of the print media in Botswana I have
come to the conclusion that we are aligning ourselves into two distinct
groups; those for Government and those against Government, but very few
for Botswana. In the battle of the titans it's the grass that suffers.

I have been asked on many occasions why we like to appear to be a
'nation at war' with itself I was stunned by this comment. The point
people were making is that we seem to want to dwell in negativity of our
country that we are beginning to believe that we are incapable of doing
anything right.

Being a forthright person I also get forthright reactions from others;
one very highly placed diplomat once told me 'remember that Botswana
needs the world more than the world needs Botswana' and 'how can I
encourage businesspersons from my country to invest in Botswana when
they are met with open hostility when they come here'. Think about it.

We seem to be building ourselves into a laager and excluding even those
who come here by our invitation with good intentions. After people
invest in Botswana soon we all jump on the band wagon and bash them and
blame them for our ills. It seems to have become standard practice to
blame expatriates for some of our failures. It is true there are some
dregs of society we can do without and they do not deserve to be here,
but we cannot tar all expatriates with the same brush. Ask yourself if
you were a real investor would you invest in Botswana if you were being
made to feel unwelcome, I am sure you would look for other opportunities
elsewhere where you are made to feel welcome to invest.  I believe that
money gravitates to where it is made to feel welcome.

It is apparent is that we are suffering from a crises of confidence and
what is lacking is that 'FEEL GOOD' factor. We are adopting a fatalistic
and a self destructive attitude and dragging our country down with us.
This attitude of ours that criticizes everything in Botswana is becoming
a serious problem. We keep painting a negative picture of our nation and
are not proud of any of our achievements. Why do we always want to dwell
on the negative aspects of our country and ignore the finer points?

Take the issue of the National Anthem, where some people openly say that
they do not sing it as a 'protest'. Fair enough, they are expressing
their freedom of choice but what is disturbing is that there are some on
the side lines who silently or publicly urge them on and thereby condone
their actions. Wake up Batswana the Anthem is a National treasure it
does not belong to any party or individual. We must realize and begin to
understand that the Nation State is greater than our own individual
wishes and desires. The Nation State will still survive long after all
politicians and Governments are dead and gone. Therefore if you have
issues or a gripe with an individual, government, party or policy,
challenge those issues but do not take it out on the National Anthem.

This is so typical of our society today where we prefer to kick the
player instead of the ball. Some of us have become so cocooned in our
thinking that we will refuse to say anything good about Botswana because
we fear that to do so we will in a roundabout way be praising the BDP
Government!! We further cloud our thinking that when people do praise
our national successes they are labelled 'boot lickers', sycophants,
praise singers and all the other hackneyed 'journo-lingo' phrases one
can come up with.

I am sure that I am opening myself as a candidate to be labelled a 'boot
licker' for saying so. So be it, but by fearing this label in a way will
be impinging on my 'freedom of expression' because some of us would be
intimidated into silence for fear of being labelled if we express our
views. So friends this is a two way street where your freedom of
expression is as important as the freedom of others.

Is it all that bad? The situation is not lost, what we need to do is to
change our mindset to be more positive about Botswana.  The media is a
very crucial role player in our nations' affairs. You are the
conscience, the barometer, the watchdog, the mirror of society but most
importantly you are in the front line of challenging thinking and
action. I believe the press can play a very determining role in our
future success.

How can you assist the Nation? For a start let us try to be more
positive about our nation, no I don't mean slavishly support or praise
the Government, but distinguish what is positive for the nation. The
media should be more supportive of businesses especially citizen
business. A good example is that we seem to take great delight if a
citizen owned business falls upon hard times. We normally see front page
coverage of a citizen business failure.

I don't know if it is glee on our part or is it to 'punish' that
individual. Take for example the issue of the 'matter between'; I think
we must be the only country where we like to give so much space and
prominence to those adverts. Some even appear as quarter pages elsewhere
it is buried under the 'classified columns'. I don't know if it is to
embarrass the defendant or is it just our own joy at another Motswana's
failure. Being cynical by nature I see another angle, the bigger the
advert the better the revenue, make no mistake the one who pays for it
is not the plaintiff but the defendant who is already reeling under the
burden of debt.

Failures in business are an occupational hazard and are a part of the
learning curve of any business. People do not invest their own money for
fun just to lose it there are reasons for the failure. We do not have to
kick them when they are down but what we need to do is to encourage
those who fall by the wayside to stand up and dust themselves and to try

What I strongly believe in is that while we openly welcome foreign
direct investments we must look to ourselves and ask why we don't invest
in our own economy. As media you are a valuable partner in the
development of our own business sector. Why don't we want to see our own
Cyril Ramaphosas, Tokyo Sexwales and all the other big names in business
over our border? Is it so wrong to have our own millionaires?  When a
Motswana makes headway in business soon tongues are wagging; we start
casting aspersions such as 'he has looted CEDA or the NDB, he has
political connections' etc, you are aware of these things. We ourselves
become risk averse and prefer to let others do business, but when they
make a success we complain. Why can't we   encourage those Batswana with
the necessary skills and resources to venture into business and give
them our full backing and support?

I see a great future for Botswana if only we start taking responsibility
and putting Botswana first. We must stop running down our nation and
begin to love it more. As the Americans say; 'love it or leave it'. We
all have our own individual axes to grind with Government, politicians,
individuals and others but let us not punish to country. There is only
but one Botswana and the success of our nation is inextricably tied to
how we go about promoting it. It may not be the perfect country today
but we can work at it so that we can stand equal with other nations in
ensuring that not only our economy develops and grows, but the
development of a culture that deepens and entrenches our democratic
rights and freedoms, for this BOCCIM pledges to stand shoulder to
shoulder with the media and any other stake holders.

My final message would be: Let's make Botswana one great place, a nation
of can do, let's do, want to do, can be done, lets make the difference,
lets all do it together and lets all move on. May your pens never run

E 3) Additional notices and forwarding for the week ending on 7/5/05:

* 3/5/05: Today's arrival of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana
* 3/5/05: afrol News on barriers to Namibia and Botswana beef exports to
* 3/5/05: URGENT: His Honour the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana
@         OP @ 16:15
* 3/5/05: "Aust miner prefers Botswana riches"
* 4/5/05: "Aliu arrives for Ghana-Botswana Fair"
* 4/5/05: "Mine firms flock to Botswana"
* 5/5/05: "Lost African Lake [Makgadikgadi] spawned fish diversity
"beyond         belief""
* 6/5/05: Prime Minister Mosisili of Lesotho to pay official visit to
* 6/5/05: "Let's network our trade patterns to end poverty - Aliu urges
* 6/5/05: "SA, Zimbabwe and Botswana formulate joint research plan"