Saturday, December 5, 2009

Opening Remarks by His Excellency the President Leutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama at the Cabinet Retreat

source: Republic of Botswana (2/12/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 28 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery


Your Honour, the Vice President, Honourable Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Distinguished Guest Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me thank all of you for attending. The main intention of this retreat centres on forging functional relationships amongst Ministries to enhance the execution of our national strategy. The issue is not new as we have discussed it in the recent past. The fact that it keeps recurring underscores its importance, hence the need to pay more attention to it. I would also like to use this retreat as an opportunity to reinforce the message of delivery.

2. We are less than a month old in office following the General election where we were given another five year term. Some amongst us are new. The voice of the people who put us in office followed promises and undertakings we made prior to the elections.

3. Earlier this morning, I gave the nation an account of how we are performing as an economy and people. I also acknowledged that whilst we have made good progress, there remain many challenges, and some appear to be quite stubborn such as high unemployment (especially amongst the youth), HIV and AIDS, poverty, a diamond dominated economy, high levels of crime and low levels of productivity.

4. We are in the first year of NDP 10 during which we project to spend approximately P60 billion on programmes and projects. Being the last plan which is coterminous with Vision 2016, the stakes are high with respect to achieving prosperity for all.

5. The significance of making reference to the General election, NDP 10 and Vision 2016 is that the expectation of the nation is quite high. We, gathered here this morning, are charged with the responsibility of delivering on these promises. Understanding the various roles we play individually as well as collectively is the first step towards realizing our goals. Translating this understanding into tangible, collaborative and harmonized effort will determine how close we get to the targets.

6. I am determined to do all which is necessary to harness our collective energies for the attainment of desired results. It is in this context that I continue to make the point that those who lead must provide the leadership and those who manage for results must do so.

7. I expect the Minister to provide leadership, be a credible public face of the ministry and a principal advisor to the President. On the other hand, the Permanent Secretary is among others, the Chief Executive Officer, providing the managerial expertise required for best outcomes as well as being chief advisor to the Minister. In addition the Permanent Secretary complements the Minister in their advisory role to the President and public face of the Ministry.

8. The roles of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are therefore complementary. There is a duty on both to cultivate a productive working relationship so that above all, it is professional at all times. With clarity on the agenda being pursued, there is no room for discordant behaviour. I am therefore challenging you to work very closely together, not only in nurturing these relations, but also in ensuring that they produce the desired results.

9. As we realized during the preparation of NDP 10, there are many cross cutting linkages. The ability to see the whole vision and not parts of it is a function of the recognition that no one Ministry is bigger or smaller than another. Ministers and Permanent Secretaries must therefore engage each other for the greater good.

10. Ladies and gentlemen, through leadership and management, we should work harder at radically reforming the Government delivery system including bureaucracy to make our systems more accommodating and responsive to customer needs. We need to infuse a progressive culture that is outward looking & futuristic in securing the welfare of generations to come.

11. The last performance reviews indicated that we are not doing badly at an average of 76%. But we cannot celebrate when we are still failing to meet fully the expectations of our customers. Customer service standards which we published with much fan fare are yet to be adhered to more consistently. This simply implies that while we are improving on our internal efficiencies, our effectiveness is not felt by the people out there. This is a challenge to us to be more innovative and creative. It is also necessary that Performance reviews across all Ministries should be the norm.

12. As most of you will recall, the recent customer satisfaction survey study shows that while overall approval rating of public service by members of the public is good, it is still far below the required level of excellence. I expect Ministries to take account of this study in their annual plans, lest it becomes an academic exercise.

13. You will agree with me that we have a major task of rekindling patriotism and confront the high level of apathy that has reduced the majority of our people to passive recipients of government programmes. Our society needs to reinforce behaviours that will propel us towards the attainment of Vision 2016. To that end, while we will not shirk our responsibility towards our citizens, we should equally promote the idea that discipline on the part of everyone is the cornerstone of dignity and up-liftment.

14. It is therefore incumbent upon each one of us to create a sense of urgency amongst civil servants and the society at large so that together we can accomplish our national aspirations. We should at all times realize that our mission is not geared towards creating individual legacy, but it is an urgent quest to deliver on the Government agenda.

15. In conclusion, let me welcome once more our guest speaker Dr. Graham Scott. I trust that what he will share with us will be the cement we need. PULA!

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