Deputy Leader of Opposition in parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe has broken ranks with his admirer, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo over the role of government in job creation.
Matambo has in numerous times made no secret of his admiration of Gaolathe’s keen mind and talents in relation to matters of economics. The latter was schooled at the Ivy League Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in USA. He shares his alma mater with billionaire businessmen such as US president, Donald Trump, Russian-American venture capitalist, Yuri Milner and South African-American billionaire, Elon Musk among others.
Nonetheless, the two economists; Matambo and Gaolathe, on opposing sides of the isle differ on the role and modus operandi of government in job creation. When delivering the National budget this week, Matambo untangled government from the conundrum of job creation, stating and repeating that: “it’s important to clarify that the principal role of government is not to create jobs but to create a conducive macroeconomic environment to facilitate the development of the private sector.”
Matambo noted that as a general principle, economic development and employment creation require rapid economic growth. He further noted that, however, during NDP 10 Botswana’s economy grew on average by about 3.8 per cent. Matambo further revealed that the economy is forecast to grow at an average of 4.4% per annum in NDP 11; a rate he said, is lower than the 7 to 9 per cent of the early 1980s or the SADC regional target of 5 per cent.
He also conceded that “such rates are therefore not sufficient to adequately address development challenges of unemployment, poverty eradication, and income inequality.” Matambo further highlighted that after it is all said and done, it is then for the private sector to take advantage of such an environment to undertake investments, which would contribute to the growth of the economy and create sustainable employment opportunities.
However, in an opposition rejoinder delivered by Gaolathe this Wednesday, the opposition position stood in stark contrast with that of the current government with regards to the extent of governments in the role of job creation. Gaolathe stressed that a small economy such as Botswana needs to do more than just relegating employment creation and economic diversification to the realm of private sector. He further expressed cynicism on the ability of the private sector to be left largely to its own devices.
Stated Gaolathe: “Our idea is that a small country of Botswana’s population and economic history cannot leave it to the markets to diversify the economy or ignite sustainable job creating economic sectors.” He continued: “The notion that government’s role is simply to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial and commercial spirit can thrive is not adequate.”
The American educated politician further stated that other countries have directly participated in employment creation, highlighting that, “most capitalist states do invest in strategic sectors in the same way the United States has invested in Freddy Mae and Freddy Mac”. “Dubai has also successfully run Istithma or Dubai World, the holding company that has invested successfully in non-stock market companies domestically and abroad.” he intoned.
Gaolathe further gave example of an Asian tiger country that has made leaps in direct job creation, noting that: “Singapore also invests its surpluses in and out of Singapore, whose proceeds not only augment government revenue but pay for various social services for citizens.” He further noted that these funds or companies are numerous and are funded through compulsory social security contributions. “Some of the dividends are used to finance the high quality public services including health-care.”
Gaolathe, who is also one of two deputies of Umbrella for Democratic Change coalition, further remarked that apart from government driven investment vehicles, the coalition’s view is that government should sustain a well-coordinated and adequately capitalised ecosystem of public enterprises that support Botswana’s social and economic objectives. He drew parallels between government’s word in regard to job creation and its practice, observing that despite the Botswana government’s stated posture that it is not the role of government to invest in enterprise, its involvement in Debswana is evidence to the contrary.
He further stated that, in recent times, government has reportedly established a series of private companies including Botswana Oil and Mineral Development Company with the intention of making strategic investments but the guidelines of management remain unclear, “breeding real fears that these could be funnels for financial leakage in favour of the political elite.”
Gaolathe further revealed that in 2019, if UDC wins elections, they will propose the establishment of a system of special sector funds to make capital available and attract technical skills to the sectors that are potential economic engines including mineral beneficiation, agriculture as well as meat products and services.
He further argued that the current funding ecosystem that includes CEDA and BDC has to date not created jobs and the scale of industry required to lift Botswana from its unemployment and economic quagmire. “It is strange that the employment and industry targets of these major entities are not known.” he observed.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.