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Posture on Citizen Economic Empowerment must speak to real issues

Publishing Date : 28 May, 2019

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A series of activities in various sectors of the economy affirm that the government is too detached to realise that its absence is actually sabotaging the country’s economic ambitions. This behaviour endorse believe that government is indifferent when it comes to citizen economic empowerment. 

Citizen economic empowerment interventions should equip citizens with the necessary competencies, which would enable them to take better advantage of economic opportunities and thereby have a stake in the process of economic growth and development. Government often credits itself for having embraced citizen economic empowerment in its development planning process over the years, even in the absence of citizen economic empowerment laws.

Government points out at creation of institutions such as; Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA); National Development Bank (NDB), Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and many other quasi-government institutions as a sing of commitment to citizen economic empowerment. However, there is a problem there. The piece meal approach to citizen economic empowerment has undermined the very efforts of these aforementioned quasi-government institutions, especially those associated with funding.

There is no point in helping citizens to start business but at the same time being reluctant to support their business once their operation. Not that we want to government to always be source of business for state-funded enterprises, but where it is necessary, or strategic for growth of those ventures, government should support them as a matter of principle.

While there is nothing wrong with the liberal approach to the economy, Botswana in its current state cannot afford to use the laissez-faire approach, because there is a need for government intervention if the economy is to create jobs and if we are to have successful citizen grown entrepreneurs.  For instance, government’s demeanour has been indifferent when it comes to sports in Botswana, and as a result of that kind of behaviour, sports in Botswana is under siege.

Of recent, Botswana Premier League (BPL) has found itself at odds with its sponsor, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) over the contractual obligations that the latter is not happy with. Consequent to this discontent, the BTC is threatening to pull away from the deal. At the centre of this dispute is the State owned broadcaster, Botswana Television (BTV)’s inability to deliver 60 games per season as espoused by the BPL-BTC agreement.

There are many schools of thought on why BTV is not televising the minimum expected games. But whatever the reason, no one can deny that there is a serious lack of political will on the party of government. BTV is operated under the Office of the President, and has capacity to deliver the 60 games. The only problem is lack of commitment on the part of government. Besides, it is more beneficial for government—owing to its interest to create jobs—to broadcast BPL games as envisaged by the agreement.

It is also worth noting that BTV has not shown interest in paying for TV rights for the BPL games, and when it does pay, it is usually peanuts. In this eco-system involving BTV, BTC and BPL, government’s role alone is enough to turn over the tables. BTV should as a matter of obligation buy TV rights at reasonable amount, and also broadcast the 60 games as a matter of obligations. Both BTC and BTV are state institutions and they have an obligation to serve the interest of the nation.

But because government is indifferent, there is likelihood of BPL suffering serious financial ruin, hence there is something that could have been done. Another occurrence of recent in sport fraternity involves BFA’s decision to party ways with home grown sportswear, All Kasi, as its technical sponsor in favour Umbro, a foreign company. In doing so, we have actually created jobs in another country as opposed to Botswana.

It is time government recognise that she has a big role to play. There is a need for certain intervention measures from government in order to protect the country’s economic ambitions. President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s biggest goal of his presidency, is to re-energize the economy and to create jobs. But as nation, we are not going to achieve that we if BFA choose Umbro over All Kasi or if BTV ignores its obligations in the BPL-BTC P39 million deal.

Government should actually, astutely introduce certain incentives to various players in the economy if it is to preserve jobs or create new ones. That is what committed governments do. In 2008, United States government bailed for the first time some privately owned banks in order to save the country economy during the economic crisis. Government should offer monetary incentives to BFA and perhaps Botswana Premier League teams for engaging local sportswear manufactures such as All Kasi, Dlala, Pedigree Sport and many others as opposed to multi-nationals as it is the case at the moment.



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