Sunday, July 12, 2009

Former President Mogae returns from Nigeria

source: Republic of Botswana (11/7/09) TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

B8) 9/7/09: Former President Mogae returns from Nigeria

His Excellency the Former President Mr. Festus G. Mogae returned this morning from Nigeria, where he had gone at the invitation of the Executive Governor of the Bayelsa State Chief Timipre Sylva. Bayelsa State is one of the oil and gas-rich Nigerian states.

The Former President had been invited to give a lecture on ‘Transformational Leadership: The Botswana Model’ as part of Governor Timipre Sylva Annual Birthday Lecture Series for Good Governance. The full text of the lecture, which was delivered yesterday, is reproduced below.

After the lecture Mr. Mogae commissioned one of the many link roads constructed by the Sylva administration. The road was named after him as ‘Festus Mogae Drive’.

Some of the priorities of the State Government are said to include infrastructure development including roads linking villages and administrative centres, consolidating good governance and transforming leadership. In this respect they wanted to hear how Botswana managed to transform the wealth from its mineral resources into social development and economic growth and sustained good governance.

Address by H.E. the Former President of the Republic of Botswana Mr. Festus G. Mogae on ‘Transformational Leadership: The Botswana Model’ given during Governor Timipre Slyva Annual Birthday Lecture Series for Good Governance at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, 7th July 2009

Director of Ceremonies, Your Excellency Executive Governor of the Bayelsa State Chief Timipre Sylva Honourable Members of the State Government Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is an honour for me to be invited to give a talk on good governance at a time when an increasing number of African countries are adopting democratic principles. Good Governance ensures social, political and economic stability in any country. I would therefore like to thank the Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, for according me this opportunity.

2. I also wish to express my gratitude to you Sir, members of your government, and the people of Bayelsa State, for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to me.

3. This lecture presents an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of ideas and experiences on Good Governance. I will endeavour to share with you Botswana’s relative success in achieving steady economic growth with social development and political stability.

4. Ladies and gentlemen, the debate on good governance in Africa is timely because positive political trends have been occurring across the continent with many countries opening their political systems to give people the opportunity to participate in deciding who should govern them.

5. We all know that Africa has gone through painful experiences since independence in the 1960s. Some African countries experienced the most despotic and brutal regimes that violated fundamental human rights, and adopted political and economic policies that were generally misguided and unsustainable. That fostered instability, civil strife and unconstitutional seizures of power.

6. Corruption became endemic, lack of accountability and transparency and the absence of good governance became the order of the day. The riches from the continent’s natural resources benefited the few and corrupt condemning millions to poverty and hunger. Lack of governance attracted negative media that only concentrated on the negative instead of harping on the success stories.

7. However, as I have already stated, things are changing for the better. New positive trends are becoming common in the continent. Free and fair elections are being conducted under international observation and supervision. African institutions are also monitoring the conduct of elections in African countries. More countries are exploring better and transparent ways of utilizing the wealth from their natural resources for social and economic development.

8. Democratisation is taking root in most of the African countries, and the expectation is that good governance, transparency, accountability and respect for human rights will similarly improve and are in fact improving.

9. There are now positive stories coming out of the African continent highlighting high levels of economic growth and political and religious tolerance. There are concerted efforts by governments across the continent to embrace good political and corporate governance.

10. In my own region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), member states have adopted Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. We established the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum in 1998 as a way of consolidating democracy in the region, and the SADC Parliamentary Forum which is a grouping of the region’s national parliaments.

11. But what is good governance? Is the holding of regular elections enough?

12. Good Governance is about adherence to a legitimate constitution, upholding the rule of law as well as broad based participation of the people in the way they are governed. Gender equity and providing for the needs of vulnerable groups is also paramount.

13. Good Governance is a about establishing clear rules and procedures that facilitate speedy and timely decision making. It is about a system of checks and balances to ensure that the various arms of government, that is, the legislature, judiciary, and executive, operate within clearly delineated limits of authority. It is about being accountable to the people.

14. On the other hand, poor governance can manifest itself in many forms such as abuse of state power, violation of human rights and basic freedoms, such as freedom of association, expression, and the right to development, collapse of state apparatus, centralization of power as well as undefined systems and procedures in public policy formulation and execution.

15. Such conditions result in unstable socio-economic and political environment which engender poor service delivery, corruption and lack of certainty about the future. Under such circumstances the process of development and enjoyment of fundamental human freedoms is seriously compromised and frustrated.

16. Ladies and gentlemen, the role of government in governance is manifested largely through government’s exercise of power and authority, including in the creation of a conducive policy and regulatory environment for business sector development and operation. This includes, among other things, establishing a legal system that protects and enforces the constitution, laws and regulations and providing short to long-term strategic guidance.

17. The public sector, which includes government, should be strong but small and efficient. Without such a public sector, business cannot deliver according to expectation. This necessarily calls for capacity building of the public sector, including, inter alia, provision of skills, institutional reforms and reviews, and strengthening of laws, regulations and procedures, and so on. Capacity building in this regard, is meant to ensure that government is able to meet its share of governance responsibility.

18. Perhaps illustrative of the importance of such capacity building, is the fact that weak institutions tend to have greater potential for corruption. Corruption, in addition to being costly, cripples development, by, among other things, undermining the rule of law, the institutional foundation on which economic growth and development rely.

19. Strong, efficient and transparent government institutions are fundamental to economic growth and sustainable development. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, ‘Good Governance is the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development’. Yes, a fundamental change in the governance of African countries is the key to all other changes.

20. Ladies and gentlemen, I will now briefly outline the governance experience in my country, Botswana. Botswana has been a multi-party democracy since independence in 1966 and we will be going to our tenth general election in three months time. A fundamental tenet of Botswana’s democracy is broad based inclusivity and participation.

21. Botswana’s democratic norms are rooted in our society’s longstanding tradition of decision making through public consultation. Since time immemorial local authorities have consulted their people in open fora known as Kgotla, where participants were free to express opinions without fear. This quality is consistent with such Setswana saying as “Mmualebe o bua la gagwe” (Every person is entitled to his opinion however unpopular) and “Mafoko a Kgotla a mantle otlhe” (All statements made at the Kgotla are permissible).

22. Today our modern representative democracy still recognizes the need to hold itself accountable to ordinary people assembled in Kgotla, as well as in additional settings of the private sector, bi-annual public-private sector conference, civil society and, of course, the citizenry as a whole through the ballot box.

23. Since independence we have had peaceful and smooth transitions of power from the first president Sir Seretse Khama to Sir Ketumile Masire in 1980 and from Sir Ketumile Masire to me in 1998 and from me to Seretse Khama Ian Khama in 2008.

24. In more recent times, we have amended our constitution to limit the Presidential term to two five-year terms and I was the first president to retire under this constitutional requirement. I retired on 31st March 2008 and there was no talk of me amending the constitution to seek a third term.

25. To broaden citizen participation in elections we amended our electoral laws to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 years, and extended the franchise to our citizens residing outside the country. Elections are now overseen by an Independent Electoral Commission presided over by a Judge of the High Court.

26. The judiciary and legislature are independent and have each performed their watch dog role over the executive admirably. In addition, Botswana has had a vibrant, robust and independent media and civil society. Openness to public scrutiny and transparency has reinforced accountability. No one is spared from scrutiny by the media.

27. In addition to the constitutionally-entrenched oversight organisations such as the Auditor General and Directorate of Public Prosecutions, we have established independent organisations such as the Auditor General, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, Ombudsman and Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board.

28. These key anti-corruption and accountability institutions ensure strict adherence to proper financial management practices and good corporate governance.

29. They have strong legal mandates and powers to investigate and report on possible abuses and departures from financial laws and regulations, designed to protect the public interest with regard to, among other things, safeguarding of the collection, custody and use of public funds and assets, including land, the security of private property, as well as the freedom to trade anywhere in the country.

30. An independent judiciary underpins these institutions, and we continue to exercise vigilance to ensure that they all adapt to the changing times.

31. In Botswana we are committed to the goal of ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption. Our resolve is that corrupt practices must remain a ‘high risk low return undertaking’. This has earned Botswana a rating, by Transparency International, as the least corrupt country in Africa and the developing world, and indeed among the best in the world.

32. Our experience is that one key element of promoting good governance is to have a transparent system that allows interaction among development agents, without unnecessary hindrances to information access. Transparency is promoted more effectively through information flow between governments and other stakeholders.

33. This includes creation of formal and informal channels for constant dialogue and consultation between partners. Some such channels include creation and sustenance of inclusive but relevant fora that can accommodate various interests.

34. To further enhance information flow, the government has established a directorate within the Office of the President called Government Communications and Information System. This is a government communications network whose mission is to ensure that Botswana is better informed about itself and the world is well informed about Botswana.

35. Ladies and gentlemen, a particular aspect of governance of major interest to me is the management of natural resources. It is known all over the world that Africa is endowed with natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, wildlife and forests, but because of poor governance the wealth accruing from these resources does not benefit millions of our people. They remain poor and susceptible to disease while few of their compatriots live high life. As an oil-rich State I would like to believe that you are also interested in the proper management of natural resources.

36. In Botswana we decided at independence to reaffirm the principle that the natural resources of Botswana are a common heritage. Botswana therefore owes its advances in development to the exploitation of minerals, especially diamonds.

37. All mining rights are vested in the state and revenue through direct shareholding, where appropriate taxes and royalties accrue to the national coffers. These are the resources that we have used to develop schools, health facilities, and physical infrastructure and sustain the costs associated with the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

38. The revenues earned from diamonds are a matter of public knowledge and reported in published government accounts. We have done relatively better in transforming the wealth from our minerals into social development and economic growth. We managed because we developed transparent policies and regulatory framework which enforced accountability.

39. Ladies and gentlemen, allow to reiterate as a point of emphasis that for democracy to be said to be working it is necessary that the continent’s natural resources be managed in a transparent and accountable manner. People should benefit from these resources because they belong to them. Secondly, for democracy to grow roots on the African continent, leaders should commit to handing over power after the expiration of their term of office.

40. In Botswana we have demonstrated that it is possible to be transparent and accountable. It only takes good policies, commitment and accepting that natural resources do not belong to leaders and their families and friends, but are a common heritage for present and future generations. What we have achieved can be achieved by other African states.


42. Ladies and gentlemen, good governance is all embracing. It is not a menu from which to pick and choose. All elements of governance such as political, economic, social, public sector management, the media and civil society, area equally crucial. But all these have to be underpinned by values of broad based citizen participation, transparency, accountability and fairness.

43. Strong and functioning democratic institutions and values can facilitate economic development, create an environment which encourages individual and group initiatives and equitably distribution of resources.

44. Allow me to conclude by quoting Dr Mo Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which focuses on governance in Africa.
Dr Ibrahim says,

• ‘Without good governance, the State’s resources cannot be effectively administered to provide education and health- care services, of which acute shortages exist in much of the continent. Potential gains from increased aid and debt relief cannot be as effective as they could be.
• ‘Without good governance, laws cannot be justly applied and security upheld. Africa faces high risks of internal insecurity, which can quickly develop into humanitarian crises in the absence of security and the rule of law.
• ‘Without good governance, people cannot be fairly represented, and democracy cannot be allowed to flourish. Civil society cannot fulfil its potential to contribute to development in the absence of sound governance.
• ‘Without good governance, businesses cannot operate. The private sector is an engine of growth - generating employment, prosperity and tax revenue-but only if it is able to thrive.
• ‘Without good governance, international investors will be deterred. Africa is experiencing record flows of FDI, but they are still a small fraction of the global total and must be increased if the continent is to have a chance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.’

45. I thank you for your attention.

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