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YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY!

A lot of writers, commentators and politicians have written and talked about youth development. We have all heard that the future belongs to our youth. Without the youth there is simply NO future to talk about. This is the naked truth that no one can deny. We therefore cannot afford to play politics with our youth because by doing so we will be playing with the future of this beautiful country.  But what are we doing to prepare our youth for the future we so passionately talk about?

Realising that we have a growing number of young people who will soon have or have assumed a significant political voice, the government has come up with a number of policies meant to appease the youth and  thus create a false sense of safety not only aimed at soothing the youth into submission but also to subtly buy their loyalty.  With these policies the government is playing with a boomerang, it will fire back.

These policies are not founded on solid national development principles and will not serve to develop our youth into desirable future leaders. We will breed corrupt and bitter leaders who will destroy the foundations of our democracy as well as what will have remained of our economy.  What future then will be inherited by generations to come?   Although the government appears to be caring for our youth, the contrary is true.  The youth programs are nothing more than naked self preservation stunts meant only to perpetuate the continued rule of the current government without any due consideration for the long-term survival of our nation.

Fortunately we have a youth that is relatively educated, passionate, energetic, and innovative and increasingly becoming brave.  Taking them for granted will not work any more. The reality is that they are now awake and can quietly see for themselves what is going on.  They will fend for themselves. They are busy forming companies and applying for government grants as advised by government hoping that they will find some temporary relief from the harsh realities of unemployment and poverty and prepare themselves for the future they deserve. These young people are now watching the government with eagle eyes. The ill advised government publicly announced policy of hiring only BDP members will back fire in a manner that will shock the current government to its core.

The youth hold the keys to the future of our republic.  If the government really cared about the youth we should not be having youth unemployment of over 22 % in such a small population; we should not be having the youth programs we currently have; our development agenda would be clearly youth centric and visibly youth focused. The youth programs of providing grants to untrained youth, ipelegeng, tirelo sechaba, unsupervised internships and many other ill conceived programs will not take the youth anywhere. How do you give a grant to someone to start a business when you know that the person has not been prepared in any shape or form for such a business adventure?  I cannot believe a caring government would spend millions if not billions of Pula on the youth without first identifying their aptitudes, likes and talents, then training them and giving them appropriate opportunities to practically develop their talents.  We need first to understand the developmental needs of our youth and apply our minds in those specific areas so that we can develop well rounded youth who will effectively drive our tomorrow.

Without jobs, the youth are ‘’forced’’ to form companies and to take grants when they do not have a clue of how to run a business.  This is what some people call classical tokenism which is based on the illusion that people cannot see through these underhanded political manipulations. It is clear that the youth cannot win tenders without paying a price. Some will pay a price to win these tenders, but unfortunately many of them will not be able execute the projects well because they only had the ‘know who’ and not the ‘know how’. This results in a multitude of youth who are frustrated and totally disillusioned because of these failures.   When these young people fail, the same government resort to calling them names such as ‘irresponsible young people who lack focus, direction and fortitude’, when in fact; it is the government that is,  dare I say, grossly irresponsible.

Any youth development program that leaves behind the parents (community), the business community and the labour movement will not proper.   The government is the father of the nation and must ensure that the policies they adopt will develop the youth fully for future diverse business and social challenges.  But the government must realise that it cannot do this alone. The community, the business community, the labour movement must all come on board through an effective government facilitated process. 

When a young person graduates from university or from a technical college, they must know that, if they have fully applied themselves a bright future awaits ahead for them.  Each young person must have a clear career path that will lead them toward their preferred future. The only thing that should interfere with that career path is the failure by the concerned youth, not because there is no opportunity.

If you look at any job advert in our country, every employer including government is looking for at least five years experience. Where do our youth get the five year experience from? There must be some deliberate government policies that seek to ensure that each company in Botswana has a youth development programme; that they have youth that they mentor and coach from various institutions; that during the holidays these youth go for vocational work experience in these companies including government departments.

These youth must know that if they apply themselves fully they have a future in that company or department.  Debswana has voluntarily done this for many years and ought to be congratulated. Other companies including government should be persuaded to do the same.  The business community and the labour movement ought to play meaningful roles in youth development, as without the youth everyone including government is doomed to fail in the long term.

The government should be facilitating the development of world class local companies, in building construction, road construction/maintenance, agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, even mining and beneficiation. This is where the government should be spending their CEDA, LEA and YDF money; preparing for the effective youth entry into industry.  These world-class local companies would then employ the youth and train them fully to become experts and managers in their chosen fields. Some of these youth may eventually start their own businesses allowing the economy to continue to grow organically and absorb more youth.

How can a sincere and caring government give grants to the youth to start agricultural projects for example; when these young people are not trained in agriculture; when these young people do not have land; when there is no water to support such agricultural activities?  A caring government will fully involve the community here. After fully training the youth so inclined, this government will seek partnership with the communities for land acquisition and will then provide water, electricity and road infrastructure to support the agricultural projects.  The community will play a pivotal role not only in providing land but also in providing labour, accommodation and generally support for the youth. These youth projects will therefore not only benefit the youth but the community at large. These youth will also help the community to grow providing a win-win scenario for all.

A truly caring government will do more; it would also create opportunities for deserving youths to be seconded to international companies for exposure and training in order to create opportunities for the country in the global village.  These youth would ultimately attract direct foreign investment and would be our unpaid ambassadors in these countries. They would comeback with a wealth of experience that will benefit our country immensely. What a worthy investment into our future!

I like the minister of youth Mr.  OLOPENG. He has so much energy and he really wants to leave a lasting legacy for the youth, but unfortunately he is working and building on a sandy foundation. 

The youth policies he inherited and supports are not sustainable. He is on record saying that at the end of his term he will have created five youth millionaires.  I do not know whether this is a good objective or just a lofty one that will not make any long-term difference to the lives of our youth.  What is a millionaire? Does it mean someone with a million Pula in the bank, does it mean someone with property worth a million Pula, does it mean someone who has invested a million Pula in some business or does it mean someone who is creating wealth worth millions of Pula daily, monthly or yearly. What is a millionaire in our context or the minister’s context?  Tenderpreneurs can easily make millions in a single tender, are they millionaires? Hopefully the minister is not going to create tenderpreneurs and call them entrepreneurs. I will leave this for you to contemplate and watch the space as the minister develops these five youth millionaires!

As I conclude, where are the youth who continue to drop out of the education system after secondary school, year on year?  What do we have for these dropouts? Is there anything they can do other than ipelegeng or loiter in the streets? I believe they have talents that can be developed.  What happens to the thousands of youth who graduate every year?  Do we know where they are and what they are doing?  A caring government who spends so much money on the youth should know and must have a plan for each one of these young people. The 20000 target project the ministry of education has recently embarked upon is based on the same old principles that have wasted millions and left the youth in the cold after training. There is need for a third leg for that program to stand. The business community is missing.

I know many young people who are eager to make a difference in our country but cannot find appropriate opportunities.  Some even want to volunteer their services for free to gain experience but they cannot be given the opportunities they need.

A paradigm shift is therefore urgently required for our youth development to appropriately empower the youth.  If there is no future without the youth; if there is no sustainable development without the youth, then we should stop playing lip service and do the necessary now.
Let us continue to pray for wisdom and guidance for posterity.

Bernard Busani
E mail;  HYPERLINK "mailto:bernard.busani@gmail.com" bernard.busani@gmail.com;   Tel; 71751440

 

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Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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