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State of the Nation Address: Renewal through mutual responsibility

H.E. The President, Festus G. Mogae

7 November 2005

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  1. Mr. Speaker, as always it is an honour for me to enter this hall of the people, in order to address the nation. At this the opening of the second session of our Ninth Parliament, it is once more my task to speak about the challenges our country faces and what my Government proposes we should do about them.

  2. In speaking of "we" I do not here refer to members of my Government alone. I do not even confine my words to the Honourable Members sitting on both sides of the aisle before me.

  3. True, as the duly elected representatives of the people, and thus custodians of their collective aspirations, it is for members of this House to take the lead, be it in Cabinet, on the backbench, or among the loyal opposition. But, in a democracy such as ours, "we" in the end must refer to "we the people", that is all of us. By casting their ballots it is they who give us our mandate.

  4. The truth of this was once again reflected in the recent by-election in the Gaborone West-North constituency, which was necessitated by the untimely death of our late colleague and brother Paul Rantao. I believe all of us here were privileged to have known "Ostrich" for his good humour, as well as his many and varied public contributions. I am sure, therefore, that I speak for this entire House when I say that his presence shall be deeply missed.

  5. The people of Gaborone West-North have since chosen a new representative. And so today I am also pleased to acknowledge the presence amongst us for the first time of Honourable Otsweletse Moupo. This is not, because I expect him to necessarily see the good sense in everything I am about to say. I am sure we shall find some grounds to differ now and again.

  6. Our nation's four decades of uninterrupted multi-party parliamentary democracy should, however, remind us all, that we are part of something that transcends individual political careers and rival manifestos. As I have said on previous occasions, the progress that our country has undeniably achieved since our first general election, back in March 1965, would not have been possible in the absence of a collective vision among Batswana about how they wished to see their country progress.

  7. Thus it is that, even as we have debated our differences over the course of nine general elections, and the by-elections in between, so too have we all along continued to travel together to our mutual destiny, meeting and overcoming challenges along the way. And so I say once more that, that which divides us as Batswana should (I am confident shall) remain less than that which binds us together. In this way, our differences in political perspective will continue to be a reflection of our strength in diversity.

  8. Let us here rededicate ourselves, as leaders, to the nurturing and maintenance of a moral and tolerant society. We, in particular, ought to be explicit in recognising, that the proponents of various political and social views in our country are neither "bootlickers" nor "sycophants" nor indeed any of the other epithets that have, of late, all too frequently found their way into the polemics and rhetoric of a few, mostly in the opinion press.

  9. Our supporters, that is those who speak both for and against my administration, are individuals who are exercising their responsibility as citizens to stand up for what they believe is best for their country. As such, they are all patriots. While we can agree to disagree, let us also agree that in our mature democracy all voices shall continue to be respected even as they are challenged and/or opposed. Mmualebe o bua la gagwe! Ga a tshwanela gore a rogwe; Gape go itse matlhapa gase yone thutego.

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