Saturday, October 4, 2008

His Excellency Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, Independence Day Message to the Nation

source: Republic of Botswana (4/10/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 30 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

B1) 29/9/08: HIS EXCELLENCY LT. GENERAL SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA, INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGE TO THE NATION [Setswana text previously circulated to domestic media is available on request]:

1. My fellow citizens, today we mark the 42nd anniversary of our existence not only as an independent and sovereign state, but also as a united and democratic society at peace with itself and the world.

2. This is an occasion when we can justifiably celebrate our past, with a combination of pride and humility, while contemplating our future with confidence and a renewed commitment to achieving our highest ideals.

3. As citizens, we can be proud of our country’s respected status among the world’s venerable multi-party democracies, the oldest on the African continent.

4. We can also take comfort in the fact that we are a nation resting on a foundation of respect for each other and the rule of law.

5. Our democracy remains rooted in our strict adherence to a Constitution, which has been the guarantor of our collective responsibilities to each other, as well as the individual liberties we all enjoy.

6. We can, of course, also take pride in the fact that, for over four decades, we have made substantial progress in growing our economy, educating the nation, creating employment and expanding our physical infrastructure.

7. But, our pride in what has been so far achieved should never become an excuse for complacency.

8. In any nation, democracy will always be work in progress, a means by which its citizens seek to realise a more perfect community in an imperfect world.

9. As we once more find time to celebrate our own record of development let us be humble in our awareness of both the domestic and global challenges we still face.

10. Let us also be respectful of the fact that the fruits of the freedom we enjoy today are a legacy of the cumulative efforts and timeless values of those who have come before us.

11. Among these values is that of discipline, without which there can be no individual or collective development.

12. In as much as self-discipline is a basis for self-development, collective discipline, rooted in mutual respect, remains a prerequisite for our continued democratic development.

13. This is why, in meeting with many of you in my tours around the country, I have shared your concern that the selfless social values that have overtime served us well may be fading.

14. There seems to be a tendency to replace the mutual responsibility we have traditionally had for one another with more self-centred, too often self-destructive, behaviour. Left unchecked such trends can only erode the gains that we have made.

15. And so we should not hesitate to take relevant measures when confronted with such challenges.

16. This is what we have been doing over the years in the face of various social and public health challenges, including the challenge of HIV/AIDS.

17. And this is what we are now doing with respect to our recently announced measures to curb the abuse of alcohol.

18. The challenge of alcohol abuse has been with us for some time. We have long been aware of its role in promoting the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as its significant contribution to anti-social, risky and criminal behaviour, including child abuse, violence against women and deaths on our roads.

19. With additional reference to its ill effects on our young people, a national household sample survey found that by the time our youths reached age 13, 18% were already drinkers, rising to 72% by the time they were 17.

20. No responsible government, no government professing to be of, by and for the people, can afford to turn a blind eye to such circumstance.

21. It is for this reason that Government has now adopted a holistic approach to the challenge of substance abuse that includes a National Policy on Alcohol, public education campaigns on the dangers of excessive consumption, and stiffer penalties for alcohol related offences, as well as the introduction of a 30% levy on all alcoholic beverages and reduction in the hours of sale.

22. The levy will be used to support, among other things, the funding of public education and rehabilitation programmes, as well as law enforcement measures.

23. I, therefore, take this opportunity to once more appeal to liquor industry stakeholders, and the public at large to support the implementation of these measures for the promotion of dignified and healthy living in Botswana.

24. Let me conclude by affirming my own confidence in our collective ability as a nation to not only meet our most daunting challenges, but also achieve our highest aspirations.

25. Bagaetsho, let us challenge ourselves to do more for ourselves, our fellow citizens and our country. There is no limit to what we can achieve.

26. As I have had the opportunity to meet with many of you, from different regions and walks of life in recent months, I have become all the more confident in my conviction that we as Batswana have within ourselves, within our value systems, the capacity to realise our long-term vision.

27. Let us therefore be positive about our future and celebrate our nationhood with joy and dignity.

28. Finally, as this is also the period of the beginning of the rainy season, let us all pray to God that we have good rains.

29. And when it rains, let us express our gratitude by ploughing and planting crops that can make us more secure and prosperous.

30. May each and every one of you have a happy and safe 42nd Anniversary of Independence and pray for God’s guidance so that we can all live as a compassionate and caring family with one another as one nation.

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