Khama puts accent on discipline among the youth

Staff Writer
GUMARE: President Ian Khama has re-ordered his 4Ds, putting more emphasis on Discipline among the country's young.

He was addressing BDP Youth Wing's Congress in Gumare on May Day.
Present at the congress were Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe, BDP Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe, Secretary General Jacob Nkate, members of the Central Committee, and Chairman of the BDP Youth Wing, Kefentse Mzwinila.

The President said: "Since this is my first public assignment as the leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), I have decided to use this opportunity to address all the young people of this country through this statement. I will also share with you some of the ideas I have that should further improve opportunities for our youth.

I informed the nation that my strategy will entail the 4D principle of Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline. I presented them in that order to the nation.
In addressing young Batswana through you the BDP youth, I have changed the order in which the four Ds must apply. I have chosen Discipline as D number One.  I chose it because I know the value that discipline adds to one's life. I know that whenever that word is used most of you immediately see me in military attire. I want you to know that the army, the world over, uses discipline as a tool for setting standards because in those services, order and efficiency are central. The army did not invent that word, they found it to be the one most suitable for their work environment just as much as people in the health sector find the word cleanliness or surgeons find the word precision themost appropriate in those professions.

When I use the word Discipline, therefore, I use it in its original meaning. It is through discipline that we develop as individuals; it is through discipline that we can value and understand democracy. Without discipline, a dignified life is unattainable.

Discipline is about being considerate of others. I am concerned that in today's world these qualities are slowly fading out of our society. We are becoming less tolerant of the differences that make us a wholesome society; we have replaced the good traits of respect and caring with self-destructive and impulsive anti-social tendencies; poor discipline leads to low self-worth. In other words, unless we sustain discipline, we shall erode the very fabric of our national esteem.

Discipline is about loyalty and trust. Within our party, we have had to re direct our efforts to fighting off the factions that threatened to break us apart. We have spoken about party unity and agreed that it is only when we are united that our achievements at the polls have been impressive. The main culprit and threat to our unity has been selfishness and indiscipline.  I get very concerned when some party members fail to be loyal to the party and its rules only to put there own interests above those of the party. It is being disciplined to this way of thinking that our contributions to the party and the nation will have more meaning.

In this connection, I have observed with deep concern, grave lapses of discipline in some of our institutions of learning.

Regrettably, some of the incidents related to anti-social behaviour have resulted in vandalism and other forms of malicious damage to property; not to mention disruptions in the processes of learning and skills advancement for which our institutions were created at enormous cost. To nip these acts of indiscipline in the bud, I have directed the Minister of Education and Skills Development, to review the school regulations in order to instil the principles enshrined in the four Ds. The attributes of Democracy, Development and Dignity and Discipline cannot be upheld in an atmosphere of delinquency.

My intentions are to ensure that improved regulations in our schools give headmasters sufficient authority to maintain order on school premises and to ensure that student/teacher interactions are maintained at the most professional levels. Institutions of learning, including the University of Botswana, must produce responsible and well grounded citizens and not become a breeding place for irresponsible youth. Remember, your life becomes better only when you become better.

An atmosphere of Democracy lays foundation for Development; development entails hard work by the entire citizenry; Discipline orientates our national activities towards these goals and the resultant objective is Dignity for us all. This is the society within which we want to develop our youth for them to proudly take their rightful place as productive, respectable, future leaders of this country. I have decided that a joint advisory committee made up of members from Ntlo ya Dikgosi and the Botswana Council of Churches should be established as an overseer of our social values. I reached this decision upon realization that our value systems were increasingly being compromised to the detriment of the strong social fibre upon which we founded our nation. Upon reflection, I realised that the levels of both our traditional and Christian values were being eroded by so called modern value systems. In this respect, the advisory committee that I have set up will determine those social ills that currently afflict our communities and recommend actions they consider necessary to re-instil social values, such as Botho and how to overcome social ills like alcohol abuse. Their recommendations will assist in the achievement of the goals we set for ourselves in Vision 2016.

Party Unity
It gives me great delight that I arrive at this congress at a time when our party is at peace with itself.  One of the most abiding memories of our former president, Festus Mogae, will be the legacy of unity and cohesion that he left us.  It  took a  lot of hard work on his part, and indeed  on  the part of  all  democrats to achieve  the stability  we  currently  enjoy. Democrats will recall that in the not too distant past  our party  was  afflicted  by  discord  and internal fighting.  More often than not, these differences would manifest themselves in the run up to events such as the party congress.  We have all experienced the enmity and personality clashes that characterised the life of the party.  I am sure you can all attest that it was never a pleasant experience. That we gather for this congress without any factional lobby lists and other undesirable forms of campaigning, shows that we have turned the corner.

My wish is to see the party maintain stability because there is a lot of work ahead of us.  In less than two years time the nation will be going to the polls in a general election.  In view of the fact that we have many more tasks of national development and social transformation, the BDP will seek a fresh mandate from Batswana. In the 2004 general election, we suffered a setback due to the problems associated with 'Bulela Ditswe,' which were also compounded by factions.

So far, it seem that the primary elections we have held have been free from acrimony and division.  My appeal to the party membership is to ensure we complete the whole process with minimal disruption. The BDP has demonstrated that when it is united towards a common purpose, victory is assured. Just recently we contested five by-elections, out of which two were a ward and a constituency held by the opposition.
The fact that we won all of them was testimony to the value of unity and a sense of common purpose.  I want to believe that 2009 represents our   best chance to reverse the gains made by the opposition in the last elections.  If we keep up the momentum we should be able to perform well. 

I want to assure fellow democrats that the principle of unity will define my leadership of the party. As the ruling party, any semblance of instability impairs our credibility in the eyes of voters.

As democrats, we must at all times be fully conscious of what Batswana want, and expect from us. For the same reason  that  they  have  shown faith in  our ability  to  run their  affairs,  they  expect  us to  do even more  without being  distracted by  internal differences.

Any behaviour likely to put the party in bad light will be firmly dealt with, within the existing structures. It is vital that we jealously protect the spirit of goodwill prevailing in the party. Let me also issue a word of caution to any party member who thinks their association with any factional tendency will accelerate their personal advancement.  This will not happen. Any personal advancement will be based on hard work, merit and commitment to the party, and what it stands for. Having said that, we must be mindful of the fact that building durable unity is an ongoing process.  There can never be a point when we say we have done enough and must stop.  For as long as we want the mandate of our people to govern their affairs, the imperative of unity will be ever present.

The role of the youth in the life of the party is of paramount importance. The youth wing is an important auxiliary in the party.  The youth must be heavily involved in mobilisation activities such as house to house campaigns, fund raising, membership recruitment and election campaigns. As a custodian of our future, the youth wing also provides training ground for tomorrow's leaders and public representatives. In saying this I wish to call on the youth wing to come up with more innovate ways of making their presence felt.  You must not allow a situation whereby the youth wing is rendered docile and fails to make its voice heard on matters of national interest.

The rules and regulations governing the youth wing are clear in the role you should play.  Amongst others, the youth wing is expected to give expression to the aspirations of the young people of Botswana and to advise the party on those issues.  You are the conduit through which the party interacts with the young people of this country. In the past few years government introduced some empowerment policies targeted

at the youth.  This was done in light of the fact that many young people are affected by unemployment and lack of opportunities. It is the responsibility of the youth wing to give us feedback about such schemes.

For example, we want to know from you if the Young Farmers Fund is addressing your expectations and if not, we expect you to lay the reasons before us, so that we may introduce the necessary changes.

As government, we remain committed to the welfare of the youth as evidenced by the creation of a Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture.

I intend to empower Batswana artists and craft persons through a deliberate decision to direct the public sector and parastatals and to encourage the Private Sectors to buy their products.  Local artists can only be empowered if this deliberate decision is followed to the letter. Public organisations have been directed to budget for this.

We are in the process of revamping the President's Day Celebrations.  The celebrations will now focus on promoting our Heritage as Batswana.  Preparations have already started under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture.  The programme of events will include competitions in contemporary music, traditional song and dance, theatre, poetry, art and craft.  These competitions will start at regional level before proceeding to national level. My Government's position is that our arts, culture and heritage must be celebrated nationwide so that we can all truly enjoy our unity in diversity.

Our traditional dancers need to be assisted in their talents.
The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture is engaged in consultations with the Tourism Board to determine the best way the idea can be  implemented.  You will be updated on the modalities, but you should also come up with suggestions.  It is important that we should explore all avenues in an effort to empower and improve the livelihoods of all citizens.

As a nation, we need to have deliberate and clear strategies for talent search for all spheres of arts.  The exercise can help to motivate young people to pursue artistic careers and show case the artistic creativity of Batswana.  We will document and create a data base of all the artistes in our country.  The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture will give priority to this exercise.

With regard to the popular sport of soccer we have devised what is called the Constituency League. The league will be played in 57 constituencies, which have been divided into eight (8) regions.

There are three hundred and eighty four (384) Council Wards in the 57 Constituencies. Information has been collected on non-league football teams in Seven Constituencies to date and have identified two hundred and thirteen (213) teams. The exercise is continuing and should be completed by 16th May 2008 with a view to commence the league by July 2008.

It is envisaged that football teams within a particular Council Ward will play against each other and the winner from that ward will play the winner from the nearest Council Ward within the same Constituency. The winner at a Constituency level will play against winners from other Constituencies from the same region. The winner from
a region of Constituencies will play winners from other constituency-based regions leading to a National Championship. There will be prizes for the winners and runners-up at ward, constituency and national level. Other competitions in other sports codes will follow.

Furthermore, we have introduced incentives for National Team Players. Some of the players have been paid incentives for a win and draw by their sport codes while others have not been paid such incentives. It is against that background that National Team Players will now be paid an appearance fee for official national team games.
Sport codes have been divided into three (3) categories; namely: High,
Medium and Low Impact codes. In addition to the appearance fee, National Team Players will be paid National Service Allowances for local camp. We are also looking at the possibility of paying allowances to super league and first division players in football, and the top clubs in other sports codes.

Some traditional Games are being promoted at the Districts where there are Sport Facilities.  Such Games are also promoted during Annual District Sports Festivals where local communities engage in sport and recreation activities of their choice.  During the 2007/2008 Financial  Year, ten (10) such Festivals were held in different Districts and sub districts. There is a need to cover all Districts and sub districts as well as to increase the number of Traditional Games played.

The Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture will collaborate with other strategic partners in popularising other sporting codes particularly to out of school youth and the community at large. The Ministry is in discussion with the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) to realise such a dream. 

My challenge to this congress is for the youth wing to become a more active and vibrant voice in the development agenda of the nation,   particularly on matters that involve youth.  In my address to the nation on 1st April, I highlighted the youth constituency as one of the areas on which I will focus attention.  I acknowledged that we are seized with  the critical question of youth empowerment. I have also therefore directed that every ministry should have a post for a youth officer responsible for exploring opportunities for youth and receiving ideas from youth. The Department of Youth Affairs will meet with their Minister every quarter to present the recommendations and ideas to be put by the Minister before cabinet.

In the area of youth involvement in media activities, the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology will evolve a set of guidelines to introduce a freelance journalistic arrangement in most parts of the rural areas where the Departments of Broadcasting Services and Information Services have neither offices nor staff to report on community activities. In designing these guidelines, the Ministry will ensure that the freelance programme is talent-based, evenly spread  across the country and is specifically aimed at engaging youth. Youth in these activities would be contracted and paid on a freelance basis at a fee to be determined by the Ministry in collaboration with the public service media departments.

The establishment of the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone will usher in opportunities for show casing Botswana by creating a viable platform for promoting innovation, opportunities that advance the invention potential of young Batswana. Additionally, it will attract foreign inventors and researchers to collaborate with local counterparts and enhance prospects for foreign direct investment.

Our efforts through government companies such as BOTEC, NFTRC and RIPCO, have produced tradable prototypes. Knowledge acquired on all these products can now be passed on to our young people to set up their own lines of production. These innovative ventures will transform young Batswana into creative, industrious and enlightened citizens within the global village in which Botswana wants to proudly take its place.
Let me assure you that we are irrevocably committed to tangible delivery on our promises regarding youth employment. In order to facilitate and expedite such commitment, I have prioritised activities that I consider prime to the achievement of our objectives in the area of youth employment. I have thus, directed the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to concentrate on these activities in their implementation programmes and to increase partnerships with Non Governmental Organisations that deal with youth issues. I have given only four examples from a list that is quite long considering that all other ministries will also have some of their activities extended to cover increased youth programmes.

34.  All this is in addition to work I have given to the Vice President chairing a special Cabinet Committee on Economy and Employment which will report monthly on progress regarding creating opportunities that we are exploring to boost and diversify the economy.  Through a three tier plan in the creation of 5 hubs and FDI Initiatives at the top level, import substitution to create manufacturing and employment opportunities at the second level, and to further explore how many more Batswana can benefit from employment opportunities through the Goods and Services, Central Government, Councils and parastatals provide in the general economy at the third level.

As I make these statements I am fully alert to the plight of the youth in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. I am fully aware that the HIV/AIDS scourge has curtailed lives and shattered dreams. It is all the  more reason that I emphasized the principles of dignity and discipline in particular. It is dignified to know your status in order to enjoy your right to receive timely treatment. It is through discipline that you can abstain or protect yourselves. Discipline also dictates that you do not endanger your life or the lives of others through reckless  behaviour. You have the opportunity, and in fact, we depend on you, to make the current and next generations free of HIV/AIDS. We do not want a continuing legacy of sickly children nursing sickly parents; or a legacy of orphans deprived of parenthood through HIV and AIDs deaths; neither do we want to sustain the heart-rending spectre of children bringing up children because their parents have perished from HIV/AIDS. The legacy of an AIDS free Botswana lies with you. Carry it with dignity through discipline. Wear your legacy. You have it in you to reverse the impact of HIV/AIDS. Of all the weapons that we have at our disposal to defeatthe AIDS scourge, none are as effective as the principle of Discipline! You do not have to buy Discipline. It is already instilled in you. Apply it effectively.

If ever in doubt as young people looking for success in your lives, a good Christian will tell you that if you want happiness, help others and give God the first part of every day, the first part of every week, the first part of your income, the first consideration of every decision, and the first place in your life."



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