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.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.