5 November 2017

Botswana: Khama Presents SONA

Gaborone — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama will today (November 6) deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA), his last speech in Parliament as his tenure comes to an end in March next year.

The president's speech is expected to be centred around the country's achievements, challenges and pave a way forward.

The SONA outlines government's programme of action for the year ahead and gives the President a platform to provide an assessment of the country's current political and socio-economic state.

During the 2016 SONA, President Khama, who introduced several flagship programmes, said Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and Poverty Eradication initiatives shall remain as priorities.

"Job creation through EDD and ESP will be increasingly linked to private sector growth, with government playing an enabling role," he had said.

President Khama had said by September 2016, ESP had employed 18 867 people through the programme.

Job creation is listed first among government priority areas, others being to take Batswana out abject poverty, increase education funding, eliminate Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and fighting corruption in all its manifestations.

Talking about EDD, President Khama said last year that since its inception in 2010, 1 896 enterprises had been registered under the programme.

Government has also, during the National Budget 2017/18, committed itself to eradicate abject poverty by the end of this year.

President Khama had said strategies and initiatives to cushion vulnerable and disadvantaged groups against the effects of poverty were being implemented throughout the country.

Destitution housing programme complimented other social welfare programmes, providing decent shelter for the needy.

Talking about corruption, the President had said for 20 years in a row, Botswana had been cited by Transparent International as the least corrupt country in Africa, as well as among the least corrupt in the world, ranked 28 out of 168 countries.

"To further strengthen our zero tolerance commitment to fighting corruption, the Whistle Blower Act was approved in July 2016," he had said.

The President had explained that the Act provides protection for those who help expose abuses, while providing clear guidance on reporting procedures.

President Khama also addressed several issues, amongst them the labour law, which he said was to be reviewed to align it with changing needs.

He further updated the nation on development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with horticultural activities earmarked for Tuli Block and Selebi Phikwe as well as Lobatse leather park.

President Khama had also highlighted the efforts by Botswana Meat Commission to increase its exports to Europe, which he had said were paying off as evidenced by the increase of tonnes from about 6 000 in 2013 to 9 000 in 2015.

He had decried the low production turnover at both the Francistown and Maun abattoirs, a problem which remains a challenge to date.

On roads, the President had also informed the nation that measurable progress had been made regarding the implementation of mega road projects.

Of those that were due to be completed, he had cited Thapama Interchange, which had since been completed and opened for traffic.

Some of the road projects, which were to be implemented through the ESP include Phakalane-Glen Valley link road, which is now open for traffic and the Tshesebe-Masunga road, which is currently underway.

Regarding the 150-bed University of Botswana teaching hospital Lt Gen. Dr Khama had stated that the facility would be opened this year.

The yet to be opened teaching hospital has been named after the late former president, Sir Ketumile Masire, who died in June.

On energy, the president had noted that Botswana was transitioning from an energydependent to an energy-surplus nation, a process which he had said was being given impetus through the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

Meanwhile, thousands of Batswana are expected to follow SONA proceedings live on national television later today.

Source : BOPA

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