Sunday, June 21, 2009

Statement by H.H the Vice President,Lt.Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP, at the Official Opening of the Commemoration of the 6th National NGO Week

source: Republic of Botswana (18/6/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 16 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


Director of Ceremonies,
Honourable Ministers here present,
Honourable Members of Parliament here present, Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations Your Worship the Mayor of Gaborone, Chairperson of BOCONGO, Reverend Butale Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Although I have had to temporarily abandon my Mahalapye West constituents to come here during a recess week which His Excellency the President had kindly extended to Cabinet, I am nonetheless delighted that you saw it fit to invite me to this morning's official opening of the 6th NGO Week 2009.

2. I agreed to brave this cold winter morning like all of you did to be here because I believe in the partnership Government has established over the years with the NGO movement in this country.

3. One of America's greatest industrialists, Henry Ford once noted that "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress and working together is success".

4. These wise words can appropriately describe the actual and desired harmony between the Government and the NGO sector in this country.

5. The progress that Botswana has recorded on a number of fronts is indeed a manifestation of the success of the collaborative efforts of the Government, the NGO movement and the Private sector.

6. Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand tall and proud to denounce assertions that Government-NGO relations are of necessity hostile.

7. I am confident that I speak for NGOs as well when I say that the creation of a positive environment for cordial and constructive relations between Government and NGO's in Botswana continues to be our commonly shared vision.

8. This is manifest on the one hand in Government policies that legitimize the existence of NGOs, the creation of structures and machinery that allows for NGO participation in policy decision-making; and on the other, in the due recognition that NGOs accord Government, through inter alia, respect for the laws of the country.

9. I am however conscious of the fact that a lot more still needs to be done by all the national development partners, including Government, if we are to continue to take this country forward.

10. I know for instance that you will be concerned that the NGO Policy approved by Cabinet in 2004 has not been put into operation.

11. I want to assure you however that the matter is presently receiving attention at the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.

12. The NGO Policy provides for, among other things, the formalization of the Government-NGO-Private sector relationship, the harmonization of development efforts as well as the promotion of effective service provision and prudent use of resources.

13. Some of the partnership features anticipated in the policy already exist in practice and that therefore suggests we are not doing badly. Indeed Government and NGOs in Botswana have and continue to maintain a healthy dialogue on a myriad of issues even as the two maintain different perspectives. The roles of Government and NGOs are distinct, yet both have a commonality of purpose which is the desire to improve the welfare of the people. Our partnership has been enriched by our country's socio-political culture, which promotes the ethos of consultation (therisanyo) and self-reliance (ipelegeng).

14. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, NGOs in Botswana have a long and healthy history of partnering with Government in the development of this, our beloved country. The two have stood side by side during the early days of the development of this Republic. Even in the pre-independence era Batswana were marshalled through civil society efforts to embark on self reliance programmes that saw the building of community schools, hospitals, roads and dams, to mention but a few.

15. At independence while Government was faced with virtually no financial resources and on the other hand rising expectations from our people for more and better services, the NGOs rose to the occasion and assisted in mobilizing external support to help Government expand its outreach.

16. They have and continue to be involved in assisting the needy and vulnerable. When the scourge of HIV and Aids threatened to wipe our people from the face of this world, the NGOs were there to render a helping hand to Government efforts. These efforts that continue to mitigate the impact of the deadly virus on the affected and infected have not gone unnoticed.

17. As we in Government continue to strive towards excellence in the delivery of services and the betterment of the quality of life for our people, we harbour no illusion that we can achieve this without the participation and ownership of the civil society. Social problems that confront our society are many, complex and varied and there cannot be any single solution to address them. All of us therefore must have our hands on the deck if we are to move forward as a progressive society. This participatory outlook is well articulated in Vision 2016 in which the partnership between the Government sector, the Private sector and the NGO sector is underscored as a prerequisite to the attainment of sustainable and people cantered development.

18. Our national Vision further recognizes the role that all these players can jointly play in the promotion of accountability and the enrichment of our much cherished democracy. I implore all of us to continue to dialogue on strategies that will ensure the realization of our Vision.

19. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to commend BOCONGO and its members for having come up with this idea of an NGO Fair which accords members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the NGO sector and how it can be of benefit to them. I have no doubt that these Fairs enable the NGOs to showcase their work, forge closer collaboration as well as enhance their public outreach, particularly in the areas of advocacy and lobbying. Government encourages these initiatives because they are consistent with the Vision 2016 Pillar of "An Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation".

20. I have noted that this 6th NGO Week is held under the theme "Dignity, Development, Democracy and Discipline". I have further noted that the wider BOCONGO family is in the business of promoting the upholding of these principles. I therefore have no doubt Ladies and Gentlemen from the NGO sector, that as you consider and deliberate on the issues you have identified, you will be guided primarily by the values that you have crafted for yourselves, and not permit narrow self interests to derail you.

21. Your Code of Conduct in particular makes reference to your commitment to the respect of institutional values, policies, visions as well as to partnering with other stakeholders in finding enduring solutions that serve national development interests and aspirations.

22. Director of Ceremonies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to acknowledge the benevolence of our international cooperating partners especially in the capacity building assistance provided to NGO's in this country. The European Union has, for instance, recently extended capacity building support through the Non-State Actors Programme which I am informed will be formally launched next week. The Government of Botswana sincerely appreciates these acts of generosity.

23. Equally we would like to reassure these cooperating partners of our commitment to the promotion of global partnerships for development. Let me also take this opportunity to urge our civil society organizations in general to seriously address the problems of governance and leadership as well as financial management which in a good number of cases have undermined the quality of well intended programmes.

24. With these remarks Ladies and Gentlemen, let me once again thank you for inviting me to this Fair. I now declare the 6th BOCONGO National NGO Week officially open and wish you all a fruitful week for the benefit of our communities and country. PULA

No comments: