A Vision 2016 commissioned study sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is doing ‘very little or nothing to correct its battered image’.
The study however praises transparency, accountability and information sharing by the DISS hierarchy.
The Vision 2016’s new report on household opinion survey was conducted by LOGICA consultancy during the months of July and September 2015 and was published at the end of last month.
It notes that since its formation in 2008, DISS has unearthed and exposed organised crime syndicates threatening national interests. These organised groups are involved in an array of illegal activities such as terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, human smuggling and trafficking, and official corruption, the study acknowledges.
However, the study continues that “Although the DISS was established for a good reason, the agency’s work is not appreciated by some citizens as they believe that it is not doing what they expect it to do. There is a problem of credibility as some people believe that it was created to spy on them while others believe that its leaders are accountable unto themselves,” reads the study in part.
In addition the study points out that there is a perception that there is no transparency in the way national resources are handled by the agency.
“The role played by the DISS must be clearly defined so that citizens can appreciate its relevance to the modern society. Lessons can be drawn from countries such as the USA where intelligence agencies have been in existence for many years and still have the trust and confidence of the citizens,” reads an extract from the study.
The authors of the Vision 2016 count down study conclude by indicating that a concerted effort must be made to improve the image of the DISS.
“Its achievements must be shared with members of the public. Furthermore the leaders of the urgency must be transparent in terms of how national resources allocated to them are utilised,” says the study.
VISION 2016 SURVEY BLOWS HOT AND COLD
Meanwhile, the same Vision 2016’s report on household opinion survey conducted by LOGICA consultancy has been characterized as not being representative of the citizens’ response to the Vision as a whole.
Stakeholders lambasted the Vision 2016 household survey that had applied among other things a statistical survey method which had 1 777 respondents. The stakeholders lampooned the 1 777 figure of respondents as not being representative of the opinion of the entire populace.
They also shot down the ‘trivial survey’ as it failed to mention the baseline of improvements from the previous period to the current times.
The Vision 2016 household survey has revealed that the majority of respondents across all the administrative districts as well as five cities and towns have heard of the vision. It has also revealed that the vision 2016 meaning has still not effectively trickled down to the far flung countryside areas as only 70.7 percent of Batswana dwelling in the cattle posts and lands have heard of the vision.
The report also states that in the rural villages 80.6% have said they have not heard of the vision, also showing that there are still Batswana in metropolitan areas who still have not heard of vision 2016 despite it being in its last months as a national vision. In terms of Vision 2016’s first pillar on education the survey states that Batswana believe that progress has been made in improving quality as reflected by the number of qualified teachers employed, introduction to technology in schools and a reduction in the teacher pupil ratio has substantially been reduced in public schools.
The report also says that 60 percent of Batswana felt that living conditions such as housing, health, clothing conditions and food consumption have improved. It also says that unemployment is on the decline, still unacceptably high at 19 percent for a country of Botswana’s economic standing while living standards in the lands and cattle post areas have improved marginally with 39.2 percent of respondents reporting improvement in their living standards compared to the last 5 years while Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita has been increasing steadily.
Concerning the pillar of ‘A safe and secure nation’ the report states that in the past female soldiers were not allowed in to the army while in current times they have since been allowed and there has been a 16% reduction rate in serious, violent and intrusive crime while there has also been as an increase in road safety. However it also says that Batswana are dissatisfied with the country’s shoot to kill policy that concerns poaching as it might harm the country’s diplomatic relations with neighbouring states and eventually the safety of its citizens.
It also goes on to mention that 55.7% of the respondents were satisfied with the services provided by health care facilities and that 16.3% of Batswana live below the poverty datum line.
On the pillar of ‘An Open, Democratic and Accountable Nation’ the survey states that about 60 percent of respondents confirmed various international agencies reports that Botswana is one of the best governed and least corrupt countries in Africa.
The report also lists broadcast as the most medium that has the farthest reach in disseminating the Vision 2016 message at 60 percent followed by Broadcast television at 35 percent while private newspapers hover at 10 percent.
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.