By Lincoln Towindo in Gaborone, Botswana
President Mnangagwa yesterday joined thousands of Batswana and fellow SADC leaders at the inauguration of Botswana’s fifth democratic leader President Mokgweetsi Masisi at a lively ceremony held at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena. The President, who chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, was joined by his Mozambican and Zambian counterparts — presidents Filipe Nyusi and Edgar Lungu, respectively — to witness President Masisi taking the oath of office before Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane inside a packed auditorium.
Earlier, the President had arrived to a rousing welcome.
In his acceptance speech, President Masisi said his Government will prioritise job creation for the youth and fighting corruption.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, when I made the decision to run for the highest office of the land, my priorities were focused on three key areas that need to be addressed in order to turn our fortunes around,” said President Masisi.
“These are; creating jobs for our people, particularly the youth, improving service delivery both in the public and private sectors, as well as strengthening our governance structures.”
He said he will unveil his full developmental plans when he presents his State of the Nation Address in a few weeks’ time.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, young people are hardest hit by joblessness. In order to address the twin problems of unemployment and poverty amongst our people in general, I have committed to prioritising job creation during my tenure.
“One of our key priorities is to ensure the creation of meaningful and sustainable jobs by promoting public-private partnerships with local and foreign investors in some of the key sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing, electronics, pharmaceuticals as well as research and development amongst others.
“Through these sectors as well as the arts, the creative industry and sports, there is enormous potential for the creation of thousands of jobs for Batswana.”
President Masisi said his administration will revitalise national institutions that have been afflicted by corruption to add impetus to the fight against graft.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot hope to improve service delivery nor achieve any of our national objectives if our institutional frameworks are not robust, transparent, accountable and free from corruption.
“I have fought against the menace of corruption since ascending to the Presidency and it is my intention to continue to do so.
“I therefore wish to emphasise that my Government will put in place measures and mechanisms, through the application of best practices of good governance to ensure that corruption is defeated.”
He said public officials will be required to publicly declare their assets under a new law promulgated recently.
President Masisi said his Government will embark on a constitutional review programme to align the country’s supreme law with new socio-economic and political realities.
“My Government is committed to a comprehensive review of Botswana’s Constitution which will take stock of the changed social, political and economic landscape over the last 53 years.
“The engagements and consultations necessary to start the ball rolling will be initiated soon after the full formation of my government. I remain resolute in my commitment to create a more inclusive Botswana.”
He reiterated his support for SADC’s stance on sustainable management of wildlife for the benefit of local communities.
“My government nevertheless, will continue to commit to outcomes that will set the tone for conserving and managing our wildlife, and elephants in particular, while ensuring that we achieve sustainable benefits through their contribution to rural livelihoods and tourism growth.
“Citizens will play more meaningful and economically empowering role as we diversify our tourism base.”
In an interview, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana Batirai Mukonoweshuro said the inauguration of President Masisi brought the best out of the Batswana people.
“This event has taught us about tolerance and unity,” said Ambassador Mukonoweshuro.
“We saw in that room that even the opposition was there supporting the inauguration ceremony which shows maturity. Even though people fight in the political arena, at the end of the day it is the nation that is bigger than the individual.”
President Masisi’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party BDP romped to victory during the October 23 elections, claiming 38 of the 57 elected seats in the National Assembly.
The main opposition, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) secured 12 seats while the Botswana Patriotic Front fronted by former President Ian Khama could only manage three seats.
Over 760 000 people out of the 924 000 registered voters went to cast their ballots during the hotly contested election to choose members of the National Assembly and local authority representatives.
Former Botswana president Ian Khama, however did not attend yesterday’s proceedings; marking the first time that a living former president did not attend an inauguration.
Former president Festus Mogae was among the dignitaries.
ZANU PF INFORMATION DEPARTMENT