STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA ON THE RATIONALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO RESPONSIBILITIES

DATE: 21ST APRIL 2022

TIME: 1900HRS

Bagaetsho, ke le dumedisa ka PULA!

1. From the onset, allow me to express my profound gratitude to the citizens and residents of this country for their continued commitment to the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The battle against this dreaded virus can only be won through working together and adhering to all the COVID-19 health protocols.

2. As our journey towards achieving Prosperity For All by the year 2036 gathers pace, I have the pleasure to continue fulfilling my commitment of continuous updates to you on the progress made by Government.
HIS EXCELLENCY DR. MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA.

3. When the Botswana Democratic Party was returned to power in 2019, for which I humbly thank Batswana, ke a le leboga bagaetsho, we committed, through our Manifesto, to shared prosperity in the interest of Advancing Together towards A More Inclusive Economy.

4. One of the key lessons from our recent experience when we were confronted with the global public health pandemic that did not spare the global economy was that, we should always stay resolute against the mammoth challenges and crisis that we face as a nation. Members of Cabinet and I resolved that Government will redouble its efforts to deliver the promises we made to Batswana in 2019.

5. The re-focusing of the Government’s mandate was crystallised in the formulation of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP), which was approved by Parliament in July 2020. To give impetus to this strategic direction, I subsequently articulated my Presidential Leadership Role in the RESET Agenda underpinned by five priorities which I have repeatedly emphasised.

6. The alignment of the Botswana Government machinery to the Presidential Agenda is my second priority. I have committed that my roadmap, including the transformational agenda, would be embodied in the implementing machinery of the government of the day. I indicated that this would come with significant Government reforms and changes in the public service. These reforms will translate into enhanced service delivery, accountability & good Governance for all the people of Botswana.

7. The term that most of you would be familiar with for carrying out the organisational reform exercise envisaged is “rationalisation”.

8. The rationalisation exercise was guided by the Constitution of Botswana; Section 50 (4) read together with Sections 42 (10), 42 (2), 42 (3) and 50 (5) which empower the Office of the President to establish Ministerial offices and the number of Ministers and Assistant Ministers of Government.

9. From the baseline of 18 Ministries, the following changes have been effected:

(a) duplication and overlaps of portfolios were eliminated,

(b) reporting relationships of portfolios for more effective coordination were reviewed,

(c) the functional load of the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration as the Apex Ministry was reviewed,

(d) and appropriate nomenclature of portfolios was recommended and the overall Government structure was reconstituted.

10. This comprehensive reorganization of the Government Machinery further encompasses state owned enterprises (SOEs) or parastatals as they are commonly referred to. The number of these SOEs has grown over the years and this has had a cumulative impact on the running costs of Government as well as on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Sector as a whole.

11. In this regard, several existing SOEs will be restructured, an exercise that will be characterized by mergers intended to remove duplication and overlaps of mandates and operations as well as the bringing in of strategic private sector partners to help revitalise and develop selected SOEs.

12. Some of these changes involving the SOEs will require amendments to or the repealing of existing legislation, which will inevitably take some time. In the meantime, actions that do not require statutory reforms will be implemented without delay.

13. Bagaetsho, today I am pleased to present the new Government Portfolio Responsibilities that have been rationalised in an endeavour to deliver on our promises. The Ministries are reorganised as follows:

i. Ministry for State President. This is the Apex Ministry that has been historically charged with the mandate of Organisation and Coordination of Government Business. It has however been separated from the Office of the President which will now take over this mandate. 

This role clarity will result in the Ministry for State President being responsible for, among others, corporate services for the Presidency, oversight over District Administration coordination offices, Government Media and Information Services and Public Service Management. 

In this regard the Ministry is expected to bring about efficiency and effectiveness in the coordination of all Government policies and functions pertaining to the running of the machinery of Government, as well as improve coordination of Presidential Affairs.

Of notable significance at the Office of the President is the establishment of the National Planning Commission that will be responsible for national development planning and prioritization of policies and projects. It will also be responsible for governance oversight and the coordination of the Government’s implementation process.

ii. Ministry of Defence and Security will focus on National Security and related matters of national sovereignty and strategic interests emanating from constitutional and parliamentary provisions.

iii. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the coordination and advancement of Botswana’s national interests abroad, including development of relations at both bilateral and multilateral levels. 

Furthermore, the Ministry is the custodian of protecting and promoting the image of the Republic of Botswana in the global community, through the pursuit of strategic partnerships that ensure meaningful participation and contribution of Batswana in the agenda of the international community.

iv. Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The Ministry represents one part of the dual nature of the political and administrative system in Botswana in terms of policy making and implementation of the government mandate. The Ministry will continue providing direction to local government administration and rural development

v. Ministry of Finance. The National Development Planning portfolio which for the longest time has been the mandate of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been relocated to the Office of the President as already mentioned, in order for the Ministry to focus on its fundamental mandate of the National Treasury. This is expected to significantly improve national resource management and utilisation.

To enhance the implementation of the mandate of this portfolio responsibility, the Botswana Savings Bank and the Botswana Accountancy College will be privatised as a value to private sector growth.

In addition to the above, a strategic private sector partner will be brought in to help revitalise and develop the National Development Bank (NDB) to focus on its core mandate of being an agricultural bank, including taking on agricultural sector financing operations currently handled by the Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA).

vi. Ministry of Justice. Being one of the new Ministries, the Ministry of Justice will solidify the principle and practice of separation of powers. The portfolio responsibility of this Ministry will singularly entrench the sacrosanct independence of our Judiciary and enhance the institutionalization of good governance and the rule of law. 

Furthermore, it should provide for and ensure that the public develops a basic level of awareness and understanding of constitutionalism and the imperative to know about, promote, protect, and defend the rights of access to justice for all.

vii. Ministry of Entrepreneurship. This is a new Ministry. The priority of value chain development and the crucial need for mindset change will leverage on the mandate of this portfolio responsibility together with legislative reforms such as the enactment of the Economic Inclusion Act No. 26 of 2021.

It is through this Ministry that we will unlock opportunities for new, high-growth companies in the private sector and youth employment among other citizen empowerment attributes. 

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship will identify new sectors in the global export product space that we can successfully grow in Botswana, resulting in significant job creation for our youth while also driving the much-needed export diversification.

The successful implementation of this new portfolio responsibility will leverage on the merging of CEDA and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) into one entity, which will provide broad-based support to micro, small and medium enterprises (SMMEs).

viii. Ministry of Communications, Knowledge and Technology. As we head towards attaining our aspiration of transforming into a knowledge-based economy, this portfolio responsibility will be the vehicle for facilitating that process.

It will be further responsible for digitization which has the immense potential to unlock and enable high productivity amongst our people. It is a foregoing imperative that Botswana and Batswana keep up with the global village that runs on the wheels of digitization and that they even go an extra mile through ground breaking innovations.

The Botswana Digital and Innovation Hub will be merged with the Botswana Institute of Technology,

Research and Innovation (BITRI) to remove existing duplication and overlaps of mandates and operations.

ix. Ministry of Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of our economy in terms of food production and food security.

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) are critical players in the economy, therefore strategic partners from the private sector will be brought in to assist Government to develop them to their full potential. Banyana (Pty) Ltd will be wound up, and ownership of the farms transferred directly to Government.

x. Ministry of Health. Consistent with our National Vision 2036, the focus of this Ministry is to develop and provide world class health care delivery services that ensure good health and wellness of Batswana. The Ministry will continue to respond to national and international health emergencies.

xi. Ministry of Education and Skills Development. Human Capital Development has always been a priority area since Independence as is clearly reflected in successive National Development Plans. The reconfiguration of this portfolio responsibility will therefore ensure the enhanced management and coordination of the education sector and learning which is widely acknowledged to be a lifelong continuum. 

This Ministry has to ensure that Batswana have the requisite skills that transform them into a productive workforce not just for the domestic market but also for the global economy.

xii. Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is mandated to continue with the integration of environmental management and conservation practices into the National Planning processes in keeping with Pillar 3 (Sustainable Environment) of our National Vision 2036. 

These include, sustainable use of natural resources (range and wildlife) to support community livelihoods as well as management of biodiversity while observing the carrying capacity of ecosystems and adapting to the changes of the climate system in line with Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action.

xiii. Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. This reorganisation is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the regulation of work environments and industrial relations for the delivery of goods and services in both the private and public sector.

It also aims at protecting, safeguarding and advancing the social welfare needs, rights and responsibilities of individuals and collectives who constitute the citizenry and bona fide legal residents of Botswana.

The close and interdependent relationship between the two portfolios of the former Ministries of Employment, Skills Development and Labour Productivity, and that of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs demands that the bulk of functions of the two Ministries be merged for synergy.

In addition, the Botswana National Productivity Centre and the Botswana Public Service College will be merged to constitute a part of the mandate of the Ministry.

xiv. Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs. While the Ministry’s name has changed, it will continue to address the needs for land for residential purposes and development. The Ministry will also focus on the mandate of water supply and distribution, for the population, livestock and industry as well as sanitation services across the country.

xv. Ministry of Minerals and Energy. As already encapsulated in the Mid Term Review of the National Development Plan 11 (2021/22 – 2022/23), mineral production remains the key portfolio responsibility of this Ministry. Government intentions encompass the expansion and intensification of exploration, mining and beneficiation within this sector. 

The Ministry is also charged with the responsibility of optimising and accelerating the implementation of policies geared towards achieving energy security through leveraging Private Public Partnerships.

xvi. Ministry of Trade and Industry. The role of this Ministry in diversifying the economy cannot be overemphasized. The Ministry will aggressively seek new niches of trade as a means to raise living standards, create jobs and improve people's lives.

As an endeavour to improve service delivery by this Ministry, related SOEs will be merged to remove duplication and overlaps of operations. This includes the incorporation of Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) into the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), to be followed by combining all of the investment promotion activities of BITC, the Special Economic Zones Authority and the Botswana Tourism Organisation into one entity.

Additionally, the restructuring of development finance institutions will result in Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) concentrating on large and mega projects, providing loans to non-agricultural sectors and acting as an investment arm of Government.

xvii. Ministry of Transport and Public Works. Both Transport and Public Works constitute a part of economic infrastructure being roads, rail, and airports as well as social infrastructure comprising the built environment. The combination is for purposes of improving their coordination.

The multiplicity of professional service regulators of the built environment will be restructured so as to establish a common goal in protecting the interests of members of the public and in maintaining the integrity, improving the standards, and the professional qualifications across the environment.

In addition, Government will enter into a strategic partnership with the private sector to revitalise and develop Air Botswana which is seen as playing a critical role in the economy.

xviii. Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture. This portfolio responsibility will provide the necessary focus on human development issues such as youth, gender, sport and culture. 

This Ministry will ensure that there is gender mainstreaming in all policy processes and project planning for the youth, sport participation and cultural development. 

Of great significance, is harnessing abundant talent and unleashing the creative industry that is well reposed within our youthful population. 

The Ministry will also be expected to accelerate policy interventions that could eliminate the root causes of GBV in all its manifestations.

14. Bagaetsho, I want to inform you that the implementation of this policy shift will be with immediate effect. All administrative heads of these Ministries will be responsible for the immediate organisational design and development.

I thank you for your attention. A PULA E LE NELE.

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