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:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel; 71751440
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.
This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.
The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.
Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.
Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.
Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?
This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.
The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.
So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?
This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.
Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.
I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’ I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’
Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message. Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?
The answer is – as always: now.
This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.
We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.
It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.
Let us start today.
*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana
Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.
So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair. When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees. They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.
It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government. To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.
It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.
If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer. It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.
An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.
On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.
Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country. Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.
Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?
Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.
When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised. If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?
Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land. Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.
His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.
The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.
The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.
Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.
Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?
The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.
The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly. So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?
COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.
Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.
Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.
Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.
Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.
Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.
Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!
This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety. Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.
Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.