Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is indeed a pleasure for me to extend a warm welcome to you all to
Botswana, and in particular to the 8th Africa Governance Forum in our
2. I hope that the arrangements which have been made for you are adequate
and thus make your stay here enjoyable and memorable. Batswana are well
known for their warmth, humility and hospitality and as such, I am sure
that your stay in our country will be pleasurable and rewarding.
3. The government and people of Botswana are pleased to have been chosen
to host this important Forum which provides the necessary platform for an
exchange of views on issues pertaining to democracy and good governance.
4. The Africa Governance Forum is a critical framework that affords
African leaders and key stakeholders across the continent an opportunity
to discuss issues of governance in an open, frank and transparent manner.
It is gratifying that this Forum has attracted the participation of
African leaders, cooperating partners, the private sector, civil society
and African development partners and institutions. This will no doubt
enrich these deliberations by facilitating the exchange of information
and sharing of knowledge.
5. I am happy to note that since its launch fifteen (15) years ago, the
Africa Governance Forum has played a crucial role in promoting awareness
on issues of governance as well as contributing towards Africa's efforts
in strengthening such institutions. The launching of the Forum in 1997
came at the right time in the history of our continent when many African
countries were making efforts to strengthen governance structures as well
as build democratic institutions. It is sad that for many years the
African continent was only known for military coups, conflict,
corruption, dictatorships and unelected one man rule that went on for
6. I am aware that the term "governance," has become one of the
catch-words in the international realm and thus, has generated a lot of
interest and debate around the globe. Whilst we may not be agreed on all
the elements of democracy and governance, we cannot fold our arms and do
nothing because such universal values are essential ingredients for any
strategy for sustainable development.
7. The fact is that good governance has become an important factor in the
process of sustainable development. For example, it has to a large extent
become a prerequisite for foreign direct investment in Africa and many
other developing countries. We have witnessed in some African countries,
the repercussions of poor governance which have largely contributed,
inter alia, to a reduction in FDI flows and political instability,
resulting in economic stagnation and civil strife.
8. While countries may often differ on the subject of governance, it is
clear that its fundamental principles are widely and broadly accepted by
the international community, including Africa. Your presence here bears
practical testimony to the fact that we have all accepted democracy and
good governance as the basis for the management of public affairs.
9. We should therefore be resolute in our efforts to align our national
policies and legislation with these principles which include, among
others, free, fair and transparent elections; constitutional transfer of
power; predictable laws; protection of citizens' rights; equality before
the law; favourable macro-economic policies; the rule of law, respect for
human rights; an effective and credible judicial system; and efficient
and effective public service to name some.
10. Thus the theme for this, the 8th Africa Governance Forum "Democracy,
Elections and the Management of diversity in Africa", is timely and
11. It is timely because it comes when many African countries are making
strides towards democratisation, as well as putting in place measures to
manage diversity and differences within our individual countries.
12. The theme is even more fitting because the ideas and values it
addresses are integral components of good governance.
13. As you are all aware, some countries in Africa are emerging from
conflict. These countries are faced with multifaceted challenges in their
transition process. It is therefore critical that these countries enact
laws and adopt policies geared towards building institutions that promote
good governance, democracy and the rule of law, as well as strengthening
electoral systems. It is indisputable that the adoption of these laws and
policies will pave the way for democracy and promote values of
accountability and transparency.
14. I am confident that we are in agreement that the efforts geared
towards attaining these values require determination and unfettered
commitment by African leadership and other important actors. For us to
succeed on this noble journey, the continued support from our development
partners is critical.
15. I wish to caution that our efforts would be undermined if we fail to
address extreme gender inequalities on our Continent as well as the need
to empower our youth.
16. It is therefore in our common interest to deliberately adopt policies
that would ensure the inclusion of women and youth in decision making
processes and their full participation in both the economic and political
spheres of our lives.
17. Since independence in 1966, Botswana has continued to cherish and
practice these principles. They continue to be the bedrock of our
development process. I can attest to the fact that embracing the broad
principles of good governance and democracy in Botswana has ushered in a
conducive environment for the modest socio-economic achievement and
political stability that the country has enjoyed over the years. I
believe that this has been the case for most countries that embrace these
18. In Botswana, the principle of unity in diversity has manifested
itself through the values of humility, tolerance and respect for all. Our
laws, and policies fully embrace diversity and recognise the equality of
all citizens, without discrimination. We have successfully managed to
put this into practice.
19. It is my strong conviction that our overarching goal as we deliberate
in this gathering is to provide input as to how we should deepen and
nurture governance and democracy, in line with the aspirations of our
peoples. I therefore urge you to be as creative and innovative as
possible in order to enrich the deliberations during this important
20. I am optimistic that this Forum will offer an indepth analysis of
"democracy, election and managing diversity" in Africa and provide
practical solutions to the different challenges that the Continent is
facing today. I am also hopeful that after intensive discussions, this
Forum will come up with clear and firm guidelines on how best African
countries can advance the course of democracy and good governance.
21. Let us ensure that these values are entrenched and become part of our
22. I wish to commend the organisers of the 8th Africa Governance Forum,
in particular, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Union
Commission (AUC) as well as the Task Force for their efforts in making
this gathering possible.
23. I however, will not be with you for the duration of this Forum.
Nonetheless, my Vice President will attend your deliberations.
24. It is now my pleasure to declare this 8th Africa Governance Forum
open and wish you fruitful and successful deliberations. PULA!