Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma has called on legislators to sacrifice projects allocated to their constituencies and instead divert the funds to Selebi Phikwe, which plunged into economic crisis following the closure of the BCL mine last month.
The BCL closure has been viewed across the entire political divide as the worst economic crisis ever to hit the country apart from the 2008 global economic recession. Although the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, has indicated that the closure of BCL will have a minimal impact in the country’s overall economic growth, it is generally agreed that the development will leave the people in Selebi Phikwe and surrounding areas in dire economic status.
Guma expressed that when government conceptualised the plan, it was not anticipating the closure of BCL and Tati Nickel or that people in those areas would be under such difficult economic conditions. “We need to be very open and honest as Members of Parliament that there may be a need for us to adjust this plan to accommodate the challenges that we are facing,” he said.
“It cannot be business as usual when people in Selebi Phikwe and Francistown have no jobs. It cannot be. If the plan does not address these particular issues we need to look at it very carefully and say what we are going to do.” The maverick MP remarked that it is imperative for MPs to make amends to the NDP 11 Plan in order to make some sacrifices because once the plan is passed as it is, it could no longer be changed.
“If I had a project in my constituency that may have to be deferred to cater for the issues as arising in Selebi Phikwe and Francistown, I would forgo that project because the situation as is right now requires that all of us make sacrifices,” he stated. According to him, the budget should be focused on what is seen as having economic growth potential for the country in the next six years and also showing potential to grow targeted sectors.
“If the focus of unpacking economic growth lies in agriculture, we are going to be looking at the budget allocation for agriculture. If at some point in time we find that the budget allocation in here does not assist us in terms of realising this theme, we must look at it very carefully,” he said. “There is no point in building roads in areas that do not assist us with economic growth even if it gives us political advantage.
Look, at some point in time if it means me losing my popularity and losing a constituency but the country benefits, so be it,” he said. Furthermore, the one time Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning remarked that infrastructural projects in the NDP 11 must be aimed at basically attending to what government sees as having potential for growing the economy.
“Economic growth is key and without economic growth you have got no employment. You cannot fight poverty eradication issues when an economy is not growing.” Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South, Ndaba Gaolathe stated, when debating the plan that in order for government to realise significant growth, its NDP 11 should be linked with the country’s vision.
“In the Vision 2036, the overall vision is Botswana to achieve a high income status; very clearly as a vision. What I am saying is that, that is not coming out in the National Development Plan. What I am saying is that, it needs to be coming out at every corner that this is the vision, this is where we need to go,” he said.
Gaolathe contended that the first thing that Botswana needs as a country is to agree and decide that the country needs to develop only a few globally competitive sectors or clusters and grow them to a major scale and grow them aggressively and put everything on these forecast clusters. He mentioned the Tourism Cluster, the Diamond Cluster, the Cattle and Agricultural Cluster, the Financial and Services Cluster as the sectors that Botswana need to give the biggest fight.
“The second principle is that we need to be able or we need to build and attract globally competitive manpower. This should speak to the manner in which we train our people, the manner in which we target those who should come and how easy we should make it for them to come to this country,” he said. Gaolathe further added that government would also have to create an environment in which it is easy for industry and different stakeholders to take up technology, to go into business and achieve what needs to be achieved.
“You also need to create targets for yourselves as a country so that after five years, we are able to account for our achievement and failures and be able to say that we have achieved this or not.” Bogolo Kenewendo, a renowned rising economist and newly nominated Specially Elected MP also made her debut contribution in the legislative house.
The youthful MP stated that government should spend ‘smart’ and put its money not only in areas where it has comparative advantage but also in areas where it has competitive advantage. Kenewendo indicated that business confidence has declined from 82 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2016 and noted that government can no longer afford to let it go lower than that.
“The main concerns are to do with water and electricity, I see those two are prioritised but we need the speed to regain back the confidence and growth rates to pre-economic downturn,” she said. “The buzz word nowadays is disruption. Things are moving at a light speed pace and we need to respond and adapt in an agile manner. We need to pick up our pace in relation to this agenda and be able to compete with the best; Rwanda, Mauritius and Singapore.”
Kenewendo, who had a short stint working for Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry as a Trade Economist prior to being elected to parliament, highlighted that there is need for parliament to look at the NDP 11 through youthful lenses and use it as an opportunity to cement the foundation that will carry the nation to the end point of a generation’s horizon.
“Our population structure has changed. We have a youth bulge which has led to the growth of the working age population from 46.9 percent in 2001 to 64.9 percent in 2011. Our dependency ratio has also changed as a result, when previously we would only focus on the ratio of those aged 0-14 and 65 upward to that of working age, we now have to consider some of those among the working age as dependents too,” he said.
“This is as a result of high unemployment in our country. I believe that with this glaring reality, we can therefore justifiably say that this document should have a youthful face, represents the hopes and dreams of young people.”
Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.
Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.
Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.
One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution
Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.” Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.
She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age. Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.
Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.
Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.
For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.
Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.
The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare. Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.
According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned. It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.
“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said. Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.
The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.
The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.
The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.” The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana. It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.
“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.
Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.
“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversiﬁcation of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly. It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).
“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.
Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.
The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.
“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said. The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.
The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.
“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.
After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.
They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.
“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.
They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”
They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.