Connect with us
Advertisement

Co-operatives 101 (ii): Creating Jobs -the strength of Co-ops.

“As our resources are finite, we must focus on our national priorities; which include accelerated job creation…” HE Seretse Khama Ian Khama

Dear reader, welcome to part three of this series Co-operatives 101. This installment presents an argument for Co-operatives in relation to Job Creation. It presents Co-operatives as one of the pivotal models in achieving Botswana’s number priority -Job creation.

In recent times it has been apparent the search for sufficient and sustainable jobs has become an integral part of the African continent’s development agenda. This is a phase seasoned development economists, Greg Wills and Jeffrey Herbst describe as, “Africa's Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs”. It is a phase that needs the African continent to introspect profoundly and take the recommendations of renowned African economists and writers into consideration. These writers include; Dambisa Moyo, Linje Manyozo, Mamphela Ramphele and Thabo Mbeki. 

Through their respective offerings, these authors profoundly and correspondently emphasize the need for the African continent to look within itself for sustainable solution to the economic development challenges it currently faces. The authors believe African’s convectional economic model, characterized by exportation of raw material and foreign aid, can only take the African continent this far. They strongly believe it is time for the African continent to adjust and look within to win its inevitable third liberation, the search for jobs and prosperity.

Our country (Botswana) has not been an exception in this regard. Notwithstanding our remarkable economic growth and upper-middle income World Bank ranking, we (Botswana) find ourselves faced with huge economic development challenges like most, if not all, African countries. A renowned economist once argued that despite our impressive World Bank raking we are still suffering from acute low-income country signs and symptoms. His submissions were based on our economic development rankings at large; one of the key indicators was the critical element of unemployment.

As we all know unemployment has a very strong link to poverty, inequality, exclusion and compromised quality of life. Based on the ILO classification unemployment in Botswana is currently around 19.8% (Masisi, 2015), our unemployment statistics have relentlessly remained around 20% since 2007.  Furthermore youth constitute over 70% of our total unemployment, and the girl child is relatively more affected compared to the boy child. Bearing in mind the shortfalls and restrictions of the ILO definition, it must be noted that Botswana’s actual unemployment is possibly way beyond this figure. The ILO definition disregards figures of discouraged job-seekers; it also considers social welfare beneficiaries as employed.

Unemployment trends the world over show that more and more citizens join and fall under the category of ‘Discouraged Job-Seekers’.  ‘Discouraged Job-Seekers’- “are persons who, while willing and able to engage in a job, are not seeking work or have ceased to seek work because they believe there are no suitable available jobs” (OECD, 1995). The trends further reveal that most citizens considered as employed are in most cases underemployed and work unsustainable short-lived jobs. These are key dynamics that should be taken into consideration when job creation interventions and policies are put in place and/or reviewed. In this regard the IMF Global Agenda Council on Employment & Social Protection (2012) calls on policy-makers to develop a new model of growth, employment and social protection informed by the principles of sustainability and decent work.

It is equally important to note and acknowledge that Botswana has never taken the unemployment battle ‘lying down’. She has, and continues, to earnestly invest considerable amounts of funds into the huge battle against youth unemployment in particular and unemployment in general. In fact, Botswana remains unmatched regionally and internationally on the percentage of GDP invested into education and skills development. Botswana is also one of the very few republics that offer grants and interest free loans for youth and women entrepreneurship development as seed funding. Unfortunately the remarkable efforts and unmatched financial investments have not produced the desired results in terms of drastic reduction of unemployment and creation of sustainable and decent jobs.

However this should not be a reason for hopelessness and despair, it should actually be a reason for introspection, collaboration and tact. When addressing the private sector on Job creation early this year, Vice President Mokgweetsi E. Masisi, acknowledged that “unemployment has proven to be a challenge that reminds us that our past achievements give us no room for complacency; a challenge that confirms the need for a more sustainable development model, where all actors in the economy facilitate growth.

Together we can transform the state of affairs”. I am glad the Job Creation debate has taken center stage in all corners of republic, Government of Botswana of Botswana has made job creation priority number 1, academics at UB (University of Botswana) and elsewhere are genuinely doing their part, our think tanks such as BIDPA (Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis) are doing their part, our respective strategic sectoral HUBS are at it as we speak,  families and communities are also playing a critical supportive role, civil society and the private sector are also working around the clock trying to tackling this is monster called unemployment.

The sole purpose of this article is to introduce and promote a viable and sustainable job creation model often overlooked, and in some cases undermined, in Job creation debates. The Co-operative business model is one of the very few viable options we need to swiftly embrace in our battle against this stubborn monster called unemployment. Cooperatives are associations of people who voluntarily come together for their mutual social, economic and/or cultural benefit (Herry etal, 1996). Co-operatives are simply a business model that fosters job creation, economic growth and equality at the same time (ICA, 2015). 

The recognition of Co-operatives as crucial means for employment creation, poverty alleviation and economic growth has been widely acknowledged, it is for this reason that co-operatives have been promoted in virtually all African countries since the colonial period (Sifa, 2013). There are currently five (5) main specific co-operative sectors in line with prevailing needs of developing countries, i) Industrial, Artisanal and Worker based Co-operatives, ii) Specialized Sector Co-operatives, iii) Agricultural Co-operatives, iv) Housing Co-operatives and, iv) Savings and Credit Co-operatives. 

The Co-operative business model is not a mere academic philosophy; it is a tried and tested model. It has produced desirable social and economic benefits in many countries across the globe, these include; India, Senegal, Spain, Tanzania, Kenya and Lesotho. For instance; In Lesotho out of school and school going youth form and benefit from co-operatives that deal with tourism, savings and credit, market research and product marketing among others. In Kenya cooperatives contribute almost 50% of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), ILO (2009) also established that 63% of the Kenyan population derives their livelihoods from Co-operatives. In Senegal, a Co-operative project has improved food security for 1 million individuals across 60 rural communities, improving household income by 250%. In Tanzania a Co-operative University (Moshi University College of co-operative and Business Studies) has been established.

The university serves to increase the cop-operative philosophy and business acumen of the nation, thus insuring a flourishing co-operative movement in the country.  
At international level the co-operatives agenda is advanced by ICA (International Co-operative Alliance) guided by the Co-operative Decade blueprint-2011-2020. At regional level the Co-operative agenda is advanced by ICA-Africa (International Co-operative Alliance Africa. In our country the Co-operative agenda is advanced by MITI (Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry), specifically DCD (Department of Co-operative Development) through the Co-operative Transformation Development Strategy. As you can see the Co-operative model is not a farfetched concept it is a model that is recognized and encouraged in our country, government resources continue to be channeled towards their fruitful and prosperous existence.

The good news is BOCA (Botswana Co-operative Association), MITI and DCD are currently in the process of implementing Botswana’s Co-operative Transformation Strategy. The Strategy strives to resuscitate, revamp and re-direct the development of Co-operatives into globally competitive businesses (DCD, 2012). Its sole intention is to turn Co-operatives into vibrant, competitive and profitable business Enterprises, it is centered on 8 strategic pillars, 1) Brand co-operatives as autonomous, vibrant, viable, competitive and profitable business enterprises, 2) Develop co-operative growth pillars and linkages, 3) Improve the co-operative environment for doing business, 4) Improve co-operatives access to financing and insurance, 5) Increase youth participation in co-operative businesses, 6) Promote mindset change from predominantly social-oriented to business-oriented co-operative enterprises, 7) Develop co-operatives with good co-operative governance, 8) Increase member participation and commitment to the co-operative movement.

This strategy is directly in line with all economic development blueprints. It is in line with vision 2016, it is in line with Job Creation, it is in line with EDD (Economic Diversification Drive), it is in line Poverty Eradication, it is in line with Citizen Economic Empowerment, it is line with the (NYP) National Youth Policy and its action plan, it is in line with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), it is in line with NDP-10 (National Development Plan-10), it is in line with each and every economic development and economic growth framework we have. I’m sure it is also in line with our next national vision and the subsequent NDP. As the debate and pursuit for job creation, income generation and economic diversification intensifies, it is important for us to clearly define the type of jobs, income generation and economic diversification we want. Furthermore it is important for us to understand the larger economic development challenges facing our mineral based economy.

Therefore, in our noble journey towards sufficient decent jobs and prosperity, it is important for us to slant towards models that are able to create significant numbers of decent jobs and generate economic whilst fostering equality, community ownership/participation and fair wealth distribution. The Co-operative model is one of the very few viable and strategic models we must strategically slant towards. Co-operatives are one of the very few viable weapons we can use to bring down this huge and stubborn monster called unemployment.
Co-operatives 101 (iv) will be the final installment of this series. It will be an olive branch to all current and potential co-operative movement stakeholders. It looks at these stakeholders as sectors and in some cases collectively.  It will also reflect on this author’s valuable experiences and interactions based on direct feedback from readers and beneficiaries of this installment.

*Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 0354/gtaziba@yahoo.co.uk) 

Continue Reading

Opinions

Elected officials should guard against personal interest

23rd September 2020

Parliament was this week once again seized with matters that concern them and borders on conflict of interest and abuse of privilege.

The two matters are; review of MPs benefits as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s participation in the bidding for Banyana Farms. For the latter, it should not come as a surprise that President Masisi succeeded in bid.

The President’s business interests have also been in the forefront. While President Masisi is entitled as a citizen to participate in a various businesses in the country or abroad, it is morally deficient for him to participate in a bidding process that is handled by the government he leads. By the virtue of his presidency, Masisi is the head of government and head of State.

Not long ago, former President Festus Mogae suggested that elected officials should consider using blind trust to manage their business interests once they are elected to public office. Though blind trusts are expensive, they are the best way of ensuring confidence in those that serve in public office.

A blind trust is a trust established by the owner (or trustor) giving another party (the trustee) full control of the trust. Blind trusts are often established in situations where individuals want to avoid conflicts of interest between their employment and investments.

The trustee has full discretion over the assets and investments while being charged with managing the assets and any income generated in the trust.

The trustor can terminate the trust, but otherwise exercises no control over the actions taken within the trust and receives no reports from the trustees while the blind trust is in force.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, has defended President Masisi’s participation in business and in the Banyana Farms bidding. His contention is that, the practise even obtained during the administration of previous presidents.

The President is the most influential figure in the country. His role is representative and he enjoys a plethora of privileges. He is not an ordinary citizen. The President should therefore be mindful of this fact.

We should as a nation continue to thrive for improvement of our laws with the viewing of enhancing good governance. We should accept perpetuation of certain practices on the bases that they are a norm. MPs are custodians of good governance and they should measure up to the demands of their responsibility.

Parliament should not be spared for its role in countenancing these developments. Parliament is charged with the mandate of making laws and providing oversight, but for them to make laws that are meant solely for their benefits as MPs is unethical and from a governance point of view, wrong.

There have been debates in parliament, some dating from past years, about the benefits of MPs including pension benefits. It is of course self-serving for MPs to be deliberating on their compensation and other benefits.

In the past, we have also contended that MPs are not the right people to discuss their own compensation and there has to be Special Committee set for the purpose. This is a practice in advanced democracies.

By suggesting this, we are not suggesting that MP benefits are in anyway lucrative, but we are saying, an independent body may figure out the best way of handling such issues, and even offer MPs better benefits.

In the United Kingdom for example; since 2009 following a scandal relating to abuse of office, set-up Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)

IPSA is responsible for: setting the level of and paying MPs’ annual salaries; paying the salaries of MPs’ staff; drawing up, reviewing, and administering an MP’s allowance scheme; providing MPs with publicly available and information relating to taxation issues; and determining the procedures for investigations and complaints relating to MPs.

Owing to what has happened in the Parliament of Botswana recently, we now need to have a way of limiting what MPs can do especially when it comes to laws that concern them. We cannot be too trusting as a nation.

MPs can abuse office for their own agendas. There is need to act swiftly to deal with the inherent conflict of interest that arise as a result of our legislative setup. A voice of reason should emerge from Parliament to address this unpleasant situation. This cannot be business as usual.

Continue Reading

Opinions

The Corona Coronation (Part 10)

9th July 2020

Ever heard of a 666-type beast known as Fort Detrick?

Located in the US state of Maryland, about 80 km removed from Washington DC, Fort Detrick houses the US army’s top virus research laboratory. It has been identified as “home to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with its bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and  also hosts the National Cancer Institute-Frederick and the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research and National Interagency Biodefense Campus”.

The 490-hectare campus researches the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Anthrax (in 1944, the Roosevelt administration ordered 1 million anthrax bombs from Fort Detrick), Ebola, smallpox, and … you guessed right: coronaviruses.  The facility, which carries out paid research projects for government agencies (including the CIA), universities and drug companies most of whom owned by the highly sinister military-industrial complex, employs 900 people.

Between 1945 and 1969, the sprawling complex (which has since become the US’s ”bio-defence centre” to put it mildly) was the hub of the US biological weapons programme. It was at Fort Detrick that Project MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA quest to subject   the human mind to routine robotic manipulation, a monstrosity the CIA openly owned up to in a congressional inquisition in 1975, was carried out.  In the consequent experiments, the guinea pigs comprised not only of people of the forgotten corner of America – inmates, prostitutes and the homeless but also prisoners of war and even regular US servicemen.

These unwitting participants underwent up to a 20-year-long ordeal of barbarous experiments involving psychoactive drugs (such as LSD), forced electroshocks, physical and sexual abuses, as well as a myriad of other torments. The experiments not only violated international law, but also the CIA’s own charter which forbids domestic activities. Over 180 doctors and researchers took part in these horrendous experiments and this in a country which touts itself as the most civilised on the globe!

Was the coronavirus actually manufactured at Fort Detrick (like HIV as I shall demonstrate at the appropriate time) and simply tactfully patented to other equally cacodemonic places such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

THE FORT DETRICK SCIENTISTS’ PROPHECY WAS WELL-INFORMED

 

About two years before the term novel coronavirus became a familiar feature in day-to-day banter, two scientist cryptically served advance warning of its imminence. They were Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, both researchers at Fort Detrick.

The two scientists talked of “novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts”, adding, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations  Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

All the above constitute some of the documented attributes and characteristics of the virus presently on the loose – the propagator of Covid-19. A recent clinical review of Covid-19 in The Economist seemed to bear out this prognostication when it said, “It is ARDS that sees people rushed to intensive-care units and put on ventilators”. As if sounding forth a veritable prophecy, the two scientists besought governments to start working on counter-measures there and then that could be “effective against such a virus”.

Well, it was not by sheer happenstance that Tortura and Bavari turned out to have been so incredibly and ominously prescient. They had it on good authority, having witnessed at ringside what the virus was capable of in the context of their own laboratory.  The gory scenario they painted for us came not from secondary sources but from the proverbial horse’s mouth folks.

CDC’S RECKLESS ADMISSION

In March this year, Robert Redfield, the US  Director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  told the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee that it had transpired that some members of the American populace  who were certified as having died of influenza  turned out to have harboured the novel coronavirus per posthumous analysis of their tissue.

Redfield was not pressed to elaborate but the message was loud and clear – Covid-19 had been doing the rounds in the US much earlier than it was generally supposed and that the extent to which it was mistaken for flu was by far much more commonplace than was openly admitted. An outspoken Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, seized on this rather casual revelation and insisted that the US disclose further information, exercise transparency on coronavirus cases and provide an explanation to the public.

But that was not all the beef Zhao had with the US. He further charged that the coronavirus was possibly transplanted to China by the US: whether inadvertently or by deliberate design he did not say.  Zhao pointed to the Military World Games of October 2019, in which US army representatives took part, as the context in which the coronavirus irrupted into China. Did the allegation ring hollow or there was a ring of truth to it?

THE BENASSIE FACTOR

The Military World Games, an Olympic-style spectrum of competitive action, are held every four years. The 2019 episode took place in Wuhan, China. The 7th such, the games ran from October 18 to October 27.  The US contingent comprised of 17 teams of over 280 athletes, plus an innumerable other staff members. Altogether, over 9000 athletes from 110 countries were on hand to showcase their athletic mettle in more than 27 sports. All NATO countries were present, with Africa on its part represented by 30 countries who included Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides the singular number of participants, the event notched up a whole array of firsts. One report spelt them out thus: “The first time the games were staged outside of military bases, the first time the games were all held in the same city, the first time an Athletes’ Village was constructed, the first time TV and VR systems were powered by 5G telecom technology, and the first use of all-round volunteer services for each delegation.”

Now, here is the clincher: the location of the guest house for the US team was located in the immediate neighbourhood of the Wuhan Seafood Market, the place the Chinese authorities to this day contend was the diffusion point of the coronavirus. But there is more: according to some reports, the person who allegedly but unwittingly transmitted the virus to the people milling about the market – Patient Zero of Covid-19 – was one Maatie Benassie.

Benassie, 52, is a security officer of Sergeant First Class rank at the Fort Belvoir military base in Virginia and took part in the 50-mile cycling road race in the same competitions. In the final lap, she was accidentally knocked down by a fellow contestant and sustained a fractured rib and a concussion though she soldiered on and completed the race with the agonising adversity.  Inevitably, she saw a bit of time in a local health facility.   According to information dug up by George Webb, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC,     Benassie would later test positive for Covid-19 at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Incidentally, Benassie apparently passed on the virus to other US soldiers at the games, who were hospitalised right there in China before they were airlifted back to the US. The US government straightaway prohibited the publicising of details on the matter under the time-honoured excuse of “national security interests”, which raised eyebrows as a matter-of-course. As if that was not fishy enough, the US out of the blue tightened Chinese visas to the US at the conclusion of the games.

The rest, as they say, is history: two months later, Covid-19 had taken hold on China territory.  “From that date onwards,” said one report, “one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 — the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 — and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.”

TWO CURIOUS RESEARCH HALTINGS

Is it a coincidence that all the US soldiers who fell ill at the Wuhan games did their preparatory training at the Fort Belvoir military base, only a 15-minutes’  drive from Fort Detrick?

That Fort Detrick is a plain-sight perpetrator of pathogenic evils is evidenced by a number of highly suspicious happenings concerning it. Remember the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks on government and media houses which killed five people right on US territory? The two principal suspects who puzzlingly were never charged, worked as microbiologists at Fort Detrick. Of the two, Bruce Ivins, who was the more culpable, died in 2008 of “suicide”. For “suicide”, read “elimination”, probably because he was in the process of spilling the beans and therefore cast the US government in a stigmatically diabolical light. Indeed, the following year, all research projects at Fort Detrick were suspended on grounds that the institute was “storing pathogens not listed   in its database”. The real truth was likely much more reprehensible.

In 2014, there was a mini local pandemic in the US which killed thousands of people and which the mainstream media were not gutsy enough to report. It arose following the weaponisation at Fort Detrick of the H7N9 virus, prompting the Obama administration to at once declare a moratorium on the research and withdraw funding.

The Trump administration, however, which has a pathological fixation on undoing practically all the good Obama did, reinstated the research under new rigorous guidelines in 2017. But since old habits die hard, the new guidelines were flouted at will, leading to another shutdown of the whole research gamut at the institute in August 2019.  This, nonetheless, was not wholesale as other areas of research, such as experiments to make bird flu more transmissible and which had begun in 2012, proceeded apace. As one commentator pointedly wondered aloud, was it really necessary to study how to make H5N1, which causes a type of bird flu with an eye-popping mortality rate, more transmissible?

Consistent with its character, the CDC was not prepared to furnish particulars upon issuing the cease and desist order, citing “national security reasons”. Could the real reason have been the manufacture of the novel coronavirus courtesy of a tip-off by the more scrupulous scientists?

Continue Reading

Opinions

Masisi faces ultimate test of his presidency

9th July 2020

President Mokgweetsi Masisi may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when he emerged victorious in last year’s 2019 general elections, but the ultimate test of his presidency has only just begun.

From COVID-19 pandemic effects; disenchanted unemployed youth, deteriorating diplomatic relations with neighbouring South Africa as well as emerging instability within the ruling party — Masisi has a lot to resolve in the next few years.

Last week we started an unwanted cold war with Botswana’s main trade partner, South Africa, in what we consider an ill-conceived move. Never, in the history of this country has Botswana shown South Africa a cold shoulder – particularly since the fall of the apartheid regime.

It is without a doubt that our country’s survival depends on having good relations with South Africa. As the Chairperson of African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe once said, a good relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary.

No matter how aggrieved we feel, we should never engage in a diplomatic war — with due respect to other neighbours— with South Africa. We will never gain anything from starting a diplomatic war with South Africa.

In fact, doing so will imperil our economy, given that majority of businesses in the retail sector and services sector are South African companies.

Former cabinet minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang once opined that Botswana’s poor manufacturing sector and importation of more than 80 percent of the foodstuffs from South Africa, effectively renders Botswana a neo-colony of the former.

Magang’s statement may look demeaning, but that is the truth, and all sorts of examples can be produced to support that. Perhaps it is time to realise that as a nation, we are not independent enough to behave the way we do. And for God’s sake, we are a landlocked country!

Recently, the effects of COVID-19 have exposed the fragility of our economy; the devastating pleas of the unemployed and the uncertainty of the future. Botswana’s two mainstay source of income; diamonds and tourism have been hit hard. Going forward, there is a need to chart a new pathway, and surely it is not an easy task.

The ground is becoming fertile for uprisings that are not desirable in any country. That the government has not responded positively to the rising unemployment challenge is the truth, and very soon as a nation we will wake up to this reality.

The magnitude of the problem is so serious that citizens are running out of patience. The government on the other hand has not done much to instil confidence by assuring the populace that there is a plan.

The general feeling is that, not much will change, hence some sections of the society, will try to use other means to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration. Botswana might have enjoyed peace and stability in the past, but there is guarantee that, under the current circumstances, the status quo will be maintained.

It is evident that, increasingly, indigenous citizens are becoming resentful of naturalised and other foreign nationals. Many believe naturalised citizens, especially those of Indian origin, are the major beneficiaries in the economy, while the rest of the society is side-lined.

The resentfulness is likely to intensify going forward. We needed not to be heading in this direction. We needed not to be racist in our approach but when the pleas of the large section of the society are ignored, this is bound to happen.

It is should be the intention of every government that seeks to strive on non-racialism to ensure that there is shared prosperity. Share prosperity is the only way to make people of different races in one society to embrace each other, however, we have failed in this respect.

Masisi’s task goes beyond just delivering jobs and building a nation that we all desire, but he also has an immediate task of achieving stability within his own party. The matter is so serious that, there are threats of defection by a number of MPs, and if he does not arrest this, his government may collapse before completing the five year mandate.

The problems extend to the party itself, where Masisi found himself at war with his Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. The war is not just the fight for Central Committee position, but forms part of the succession plan.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!