Today’s Key Note Address By His Honour Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi Vice President Of The Republic Of Botswana On The Occasion Of The Launch Of The Botswana Children’s Month Of Broadcasting

I am honoured to have been invited to speak at the launch of the 2018 Botswana Children’s Month of Broadcasting. Children are indeed a very special constituency and are deserving of our utmost respect and recognition.  They have a very special place in our society and we all have a duty to ensure their safety and protection while also facilitating their participation in matters that affect their lives.
I am informed that during this month, broadcasters will air programming for and about children, and that children will be part of the programming process, expressing their hopes and dreams and sharing information with their peers.
The objective of this year’s commemoration is to encourage the prioritization of children’s issues by political parties ahead of the 2019 General Elections. This is a bold step that Botswana, as a leading democratic country, is pioneering this year. Through the various activities that will be undertaken over the course of the month, children will be given a platform to engage with policy makers, politicians and the media, to elucidate their interests in the country’s developmental agenda. This will, by extension, provide an opportunity for children to participate in the policy making process.
Director of Ceremonies,
The theme for this year’s commemoration “Botlhale jwa phala bo tswa phalaneng…. countdown to 2019” is therefore very appropriate.
It is derived from our Setswana custom which recognizes that children often have brilliant ideas that have the potential, if properly guided, to shape the future of our society; a virtue that we should nurture and encourage for the benefit of society in all its spheres.
The theme of the Children’s Month of Broadcasting serves as a challenge and opportunity for Government and political party leaders to showcase the future they envision for our country and to allow children to put on the political agenda, issues which are dear to them. My party, the Botswana Democratic Party, which will undoubtedly be a contender in the 2019 General Elections, is sure to take heed of the views of our young, innovative minds.
Director of Ceremonies,
Botswana, as a Member State of the United Nations, ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995, motivated by the desire to promote and protect children’s rights and children’s basic needs, as well as to expand the opportunities for them to reach their full potential. Following the ratification of the Convention, Parliament passed the Children’s Act in 2009, which Act is largely underpinned by the principles of the Convention. The Children’s Act also provides for the promotion and protection of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social development and general wellbeing of children. The Children’s Act, in line with the UN Convention, as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, defines children as persons below the age of 18.
Suffice to say, it is profoundly important to create platforms for dialogue to work with children, and to capture their views and perspectives in our party manifestos. This will go a long way in compelling political parties to conceive policies that are more relevant to our children.
We should always remember that children are not only tomorrow’s voters, but are also today’s partners in decision making. The National Children’s Consultative Forum, provided for in the Children’s Act, is a forum established to enable children aged between 10 and 17 years to engage in discussion on issues, decisions and processes affecting their lives. The Forum, which meets annually, is constituted by 10 representatives from each of the 16 districts of Botswana, elected by their peers.
The inaugural meeting of the National Children’s Consultative Forum was held in 2010 at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng. I am pleased that amongst us today is Mr. Cantona Bolokan, a form 5 student at Maru-a-Pula School, who served as Chairperson of the Forum from 2014 to December 2017. Allow me to also recognize Ms.  Lone Tshubang, a form 3 student at Letsopa Junior Secondary in Lobatse, who was elected in December 2017, at Tlotlo Hotel and Conference Center in Gaborone, as the Chairperson of the Forum. I am informed that due to school commitments, Lone is not able to be with us on this occasion.
The resolutions of the National Children’s Consultative Forum are channelled to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development through the National Children’s Council, in collaboration with the Department of Social Protection. The Ministry then incorporates the resolutions into various policies and programmes as applicable.
Director of Ceremonies,
Children are naturally fountains of bright ideas; they are inquisitive and perceptive and often ask the most brilliant of questions, which are not filtered or corrupted by any interests. On the other hand, they are impressionable and can be susceptible to manipulation by adults, due to the asymmetrical inter-generational power relations. I therefore wish to implore fellow politicians and the media to tread responsibly when engaging with children, bearing in mind their best interests.
Director of Ceremonies,
The role of broadcast media in the dissemination of information and the shaping of public opinion cannot be over-emphasised. Children’s messages to political leaders can therefore also be effectively communicated using this channel. I therefore wish to implore the media to avail adequate airtime to children’s issues as well as to give them the space to express their views. I will be listening to all our broadcast media throughout the month of March and I look forward to fresh insights and innovative ideas from our young minds on a wide range of sectors.
It is most fitting that the stakeholders in the field of broadcasting be acknowledged for their role in the promotion of children’s rights and the advancement of the principle of children’s participation.
Various broadcasters have, since 2015, been instrumental in ensuring the success of this noble annual activity by giving a platform for children’s voices to be heard.
I am aware that most of you have in the past designed exciting shows and given children the space to express their views, hopes and aspirations. I believe 2018 is going to be even more exciting, as the country pioneers the idea of engaging children ahead of the resumption of the electoral cycle.
In conclusion, I wish to call on political parties, media houses, civil society, and development partners, to join Government in its efforts to promote values and practices that optimize the development of our children. Let us all take up our respective roles and be counted as a country that respects, and jealously protects, the rights and interests of its children. It is common knowledge that the Government of Botswana, in its planning processes, across all sectors, puts a high premium on the providing for both present and future generations.
It is a culture that I implore our children to study and fully understand, and, as is expected, to perfect it with time.
Lastly, allow me to mention that Government alone cannot effectively implement legislation pertaining to the growth, welfare and rights of children. In that regard, it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to the civil society organizations which have, for a very long time, been doing gallant and commendable work to implement the various provisions of the Children’s Act.
With these few remarks, it is now my singular honour to launch the 2018 Botswana Children’s Month of Broadcasting.
I thank you for your attention.