Thursday, September 3, 2009

H.H.Vice President Lt.Gen Mompati S.Merafhe at the Ocassion of the Official Opening of the Mahalapye Adolescent and Environment Park

source: Republic of Botswana (23/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 23 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Bagolo ba motse le banana ba ba hano

1. It is an honour and privilege to propose a vote of thanks for an historic and special a day as this one.

2. On behalf of the people of Mahalapye and on my own behalf, I wish to thank the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Patrick Balopi, who has been most gracious with his time and unfailingly generous in his wise counsel.

3. When, like Rre Balopi, you are head of the legislature, you have to contend with a punishing schedule and chin-high pile of work on a daily basis. I am happy that despite such demands on your time and energy, you have been able to travel some 200 kilometres to be with us here today to offer words of encouragement and support. I have no doubt in my mind that the people of Mahalapye - the youth particularly - will take your message to heart.

4. We often talk about youth being future leaders and if we attach any seriousness to the quality of future leadership, we must equip the youth with the appropriate set of skills needed for civic competence. It is nothing less than reckless courtship of disaster for society to devote strikingly little time to guiding its young but still expect them to become productive, well-rounded citizens. It is my fervent hope that this high-value asset that is being opened today will greatly strengthen the ability of the community to produce citizens who will be able to escort Botswana into the future.

5. The point that the Speaker made earlier about the need for the youth to make the most of this facility is one that bears repeating and in doing so, I want to speak directly to the youth. This park is a sunlight of opportunity for you and you should do what smart people do when the sun shines on them - make as much hay as possible. It is important for you to realize that empowerment is a two-way street because it also requires the recipient to do some work. Just as a thought exercise, consider this: in order to be fed you have to open your mouth and chew the food.

6. We have built you this facility at quite an incredible cost; the task of reaping maximal benefit from it lies with you. I am alive to the fact that you are at an age when you struggle with what choices to make. I can guarantee you though, that if you come to this park often enough and use it the way you are supposed to, you will eliminate the possibility of being tempted to walk on the dark side and acquiring undesirable habits you may not be able to shake off.

7. Here you will cultivate agreeable company with right-minded peers. Here you will learn life's important lessons, your life will be directed by your intelligence and you will maximize your chances of leading wholesome lives and becoming productive members of society.

8. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the reason this park stands here today is because a broad cast of players devoted an extraordinary amount of time, energy and resources to see it completed.

9. To all individuals, organisations and diplomatic missions who provided financial support, the Mahalapye community is eternally grateful to you.

10. This project also enjoyed the whole-hearted support of Kgosi Segotsi who was critical in mobilizing the Mahalapye community to rally behind it. One of the least enviable aspects of Kgosi Segotsi's job is that cases of juvenile delinquency tried in his kgotla are too numerous to be counted on the fingers.

11. As the Honourable Speaker suggested earlier, it could well be that idle minds can become the devil's playing field. Hopefully, this park will provide a positive counterpoint to places that some youth frequent to delinquently display negative energy. When that happens, Kgosi and his kgotla would be able to concentrate on more important tribal administration business. More than being a school of a kind for youth, this park represents what is possible when individuals and organisations work together towards a common goal.

12. Director of Ceremonies, Government does not have the luxury of infinite resources and for that reason; there will always be instances when it is forced to scale back its development budget. That necessarily means that communities have to find creative ways of delivering development projects for themselves. Self-reliance is an endlessly attractive attribute and it was for a very good reason that we made it one of our national principles when we gained Independence in 1966.

13. It is important to realize that all too often we disempower ourselves when we tell ourselves that the government has all the answers to our problems. If it was possible to build this park on our own, surely it should be possible - not just for us in Mahalapye but for all communities across the country - to repeat this feat with many more projects that the government cannot finance.

14. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to extend special appreciation from the community of Mahalapye to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, through my dear colleague, Honourable Kokorwe for having agreed to manage this facility on our behalf. You can rest assured, Honourable Minister, of our full cooperation and support in that endeavour.

15. Allow me at this point, Director of Ceremonies, to pay special tribute to the Steering Committee whose midwifery role made the safe delivery of this park possible. Putting this event together presented a logistical challenge and I am happy to report that the organizers, who included staff at my constituency office, proved equal to that challenge.

16. Finally, I wish to thank everyone here for coming out today to witness history being made and further express hope that when some of us are away, you will keep the home fires burning. I thank you. PULA!

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