The economy performed slightly better than originally forecast for the National Development Plan 10, this is according to Dr. Taufila Nyamadzabo, Secretary, Economic and Financial Policy at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
A modest structural transformation occurred with the non-mining sectors of: Trade, Hotels and Restaurants; and Banks, Insurance & Business Services, playing a major role in driving the economy, with Govt. also improving slightly. Dr Nyamadzabo observed that this calls for concerted diversification effort with more emphasis on export-led-growth. When it comes to Sector Contribution during NDP 10, the Mining sector on average declined by 3.4 percent, the non-mining sector grew by 5.6 percent cushioning the decline of real GDP.
The Financial Policy Secretary shared his observations when making a Presentation of the draft NDP 11 macroeconomic chapters recently where he observed that to achieve the theme of NDP 11 of “Inclusive Growth for the Realisation of Sustainable employment Creation and Poverty Eradication” thorough strategies be adopted. He called for the development of diversified sources of growth; Eradication of Poverty & Reduction of Income Inequalities; Strengthening Social Protection Programmes; and Enhancing Government implementation capacity, among other strategies. Government Budget
Dr Nyamadzabo indicated that total Revenues are estimated at P295.0 billion during NDP10. He said revenue driven by Mineral Revenue was 34.9% of total revenues and Customs & Excise accounted for 27.1%, indicating the need to strengthen diversification efforts in order to increase and diversify the revenue base. Non-mineral Income Tax stood at 17.2% and value Added Tax is 12.2%.
“Government expenditure is estimated at P304.0 billion during NDP10 and Recurrent expenditure, mainly wages & salaries is the major driver for total spending, accounting for 74.0% while Development Expenditure accounts for 26.0%. Recurrent Budget is estimated at P225.4 billion while the Development Budget is estimated at P76.8 billion. Net Lending is estimated at P1.7 billion.”
Dr Nyamadzabo said while Government expenditure stimulates growth, it has the potential to crowd out private sector growth and reverse diversification efforts. Therefore, there is need to stimulate private sector growth and attract investment, including FDI, he said.
“There has been relatively higher growth in recurrent than development expenditure hence there is need to account for recurrent cost arising from development expenditure (i.e., maintenance requirement, utilities, wages& salaries). Overall, the budget balance indicates an estimated deficit of P8.4 billion, or – 5.6% of GDP, over the Plan period, as against P31.9 billion projected.”
According to Dr Nyamadzabo, developing diversified sources of growth is priority. He observed that there is need to push further on Beneficiation, cluster development, Special Economic Zones, EDD, SMMEs & Informal Sector, Natural Resources & Climate Change, and Promoting Local Economy Development. He further stressed on Export -Led Growth Strategy and Domestic Expenditure as a Source of Growth and Employment Creation.
He also emphasised on ensuring a conducive environment for private sector growth and employment creation. He said it critical to maintain macroeconomic stability; a sound regulatory framework for Doing Business and Global Competitiveness; well thought out infrastructure development; labour productivity and skills development; and land servicing, among other things.
On the eradication of poverty and reduction of income inequalities, Dr Nyamadzabo said sustainable livelihoods for the poor could be achieved by accelerating job creation through economic diversification and broad based growth on the one hand, and strengthening human development of the poor on the other. He said access to basic services like health, education and water provision is fundamental. He said there is need to break the cycle of child poverty, by unpacking and addressing it in detail in the context of inclusive growth.
He called for the provision of social safety nets and other measures to address poverty. He stressed on the development of the informal sector and SMMEs; citizen economic empowerment programmes; Developing and improving productivity of the agricultural sector; Ensuring affirmative action to promote equal opportunities and equal treatment to cater for vulnerable groups, including women, elderly and people with disabilities, etc.
Enhancing Govt. implementation capacity Dr Nyamadzabo said it is of paramount importance to Improve the overall coordination of the implementation of Government programmes. He said establishing project implementation units to undertake mega projects; Re-engineering the tendering and adjudication processes to ensure speedy delivery of projects; Enforcing sanctions as per the contracts; could be some of the solutions.
In addition, Dr Nyamadzabo emphasised on blacklisting companies that perennially fail to complete projects on time and budget; Implementing the privatisation policy as well as the public service reforms, outsourcing programme; Increasing the use of the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) project delivery mechanism; and, Implementing an effective and efficient national monitoring and evaluation system. Macroeconomic projections for NDP 11 According to Dr Nyamadzabo budget deficits are projected for the first three years of NDP 11. But he further shared that slight budget surpluses are projected over the last half of the Plan period with a cumulative surplus of P1.05 billion being projected for the entire NDP11.
CONCLUSION Dr Nyamadzabo said the review of NDP10 shows that low growth rates, undiversified economy, and continued dependency on mineral revenue and Customs & Excise, call for more effort to be put in growing the economy and expanding the revenue base.
He said the development challenges of unemployment, poverty, income inequality must be tackled hard. He said these could be achieved through implementation of sustainable policies, strategies and programmes that can create more employment opportunities and eradicate poverty.
Like its predecessor plans, NDP11 recognises the need to strengthen diversification efforts; more emphasis will be placed on: promoting exports; increasing private sector participation through Privatisation, Outsourcing of core activities and PPPs in order to ease the burden on Government.
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.