The National Development Plan (NDP) 11 has been presented to Parliament and lawmakers are making their input accordingly in Parliament. It is evident that the next six years almost P200 billion will be spent during the six years of the NDP 11 which has been aligned to the new Vision 2036 aspirations.
The NDP 11 indicates that Botswana will spend heavily on security issues including territorial protection, infrastructure development, as well as maintenance of existing structures across ministries. The 2019 general elections will also gobble a couple of millions between now and 2023.
A number of observers have called on the government to ensure that the NDP 11 focuses more on empowering citizens and leveraging the private sector. Several mega projects are included in the NDP 11 and as usual government has been urged to be more vigilant when it comes to implementation if the NDP 11 is to help propel this country into a high income bracket.
IEC NEEDS P439.9 MILLION FOR 2019 ELECTIONS A total of P439.9 million will be spent on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) between 2018 and 2022. The bulk of the money P288.9 million will go towards the 2019 general elections while P147.8 million paying for the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and P1.1 million being utilised on the review of the Electoral Process.
The opposition has threatened to take government to court over the EVMs. It is no secret that the 2019 general elections are highly anticipated because of several factors, with the opposition aiming to topple the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) then.
Another twist is the expected change of guard in the Presidency of the country, with Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s term coming to an end in 2018, hence there is no doubt that Botswana will have a new president after the 2019 general elections. The IEC has already started preparing for the elections; in 2017 they will spend P1.1 million in the review of the electoral process; P100 million in the EVMs followed by P36.6 million in 2018/19 and P12.2 million in 2019/2020.
DIS WILL SPEND OVER P1. 6 BILLION IN SIX YEARS The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) will also see a substantial spending during NDP 11. It is evident that security is one of the top priorities of the current government. The DIS is expected to spend P1, 668.5 million in the next six years, with the amount spread evenly during the financial years. The money will be spent on DIS communications; Infrastructure; computer equipment, vehicles and other functionaries.
DCEC PALTRY SHARE Only P69 million will be spent on the Directorate on Corruption and economic Crime (DCEC) in the next six years. The DCEC will only get a fleet expansion in starting inn 2020/21 to the tune of P4 million. Another P4 million will be availed in 2021/22 and another in 2022/23. P0.4 million will be allocated for organisational structure review during the 2020/21 financial year. More than half, P36 million, will be used for provision of staff residential accommodation and it will be availed in batches starting from 2020/21 financial year.
The DCEC technical works program will claim P18 million from the total budget. There is an additional P7 million budgeted for the DCEC case management system.
SOCIAL PROTECTION GETS OVER P2 BILLION Government will continue to put emphasis on social protection. The Poverty Eradication Programme gets the large chunk in the budget, with P2, 172.8 million budgeted for this programme. An Emergency Operating Centre will be established at the tune of P30 million, with P5 million spent over the course of the six years. P8 million has been set aside for a Disability Economic Empowerment Programme.
CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE PLENTY AT EDUCATION MINISTRY Secondary education will see a number of projects being implemented. A Unified secondary School will be built in Tsabong at the tune of P100 million during the 2017/18 financial year and will be completed during the 2018/19 financial year. Another Unified Secondary School will be built in Takatokwane also at the tune of P100 million while Francistown and Maun will see construction of a Junior Secondary Schools at the tune of P80 million each.
P269 million has been budged and apportioned equally across the six years for expansion of junior secondary schools. P43.4 million will be used for maintenance of junior secondary schools. Secondary Schools staff housing has been allocated P654.9 million starting with P422.1 million budgeted for the 2017/18 financial year. A Centre for Severe and Multiple Disability is lined up for Maun to the tune of P200 million while Francistown will get a Learner Assessment Centre valued at P20 million.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT The Ministry of Local Government and Rural development will also spend heavily on social welfare programmes and infrastructure development. P5, 238.0million is reserved for social welfare programmes while there is a whooping P922.5 million for infrastructure development. The infrastructure includes internal roads among others. P928.4 million will be used for Primary Schools infrastructure backlog eradication in all districts. Local construction companies are expected to be bankrolled by these budget which available between financial years 2017/18 and 2019/20.
MORE SPENDING ON WATER AND ENERGY Close to P9 billion will be spent on water infrastructure development. The North South Water Carrier project Palapye-Mmashia will need about P5 billion over the next six years. P700 million will be needed in the financial year 2017/18. Kanye will be connected to the NSC during the 2018/19 financial year with a budget of P150 million in 2017/18 and P300 million in 2019/2020. P400 million is needed for the Gaborone-Mmamashia pipeline; Thune dam pipeline works need P590 million by 2023. Several other pipeline projects are expected to be implemented to the tune of millions of Pula. Sanitation works have also been budgeted for to the tune of P3 815.3 million.
Power generation and distribution will need P3, 865.6 million. Morupule A refurbishment needs P600 million between financial years 2017/18 and 2019/20. P814.6 million is reserved for Rakola substation during the financial years 2018/19 and 2020/21. Rural village electrification and network extension has P650 million budgeted for the next six years. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) will be supported with P10 billion in the next six years.
BDF AND BOTSWANA POLICE SERVICE Strengthening of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) capabilities has been given priority in the next six years. BDF will spend P14, 830.5 million in the next six years. Botswana Police Service will be strengthened during the next six years with P2, 420.0 budgeted. A number of police stations and posts will be constructed across the country. Police houses and maintenance of existing structures also dominate the budget
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.