President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama is expected to deliver a State of the Nation Address on Monday. While it is customary that his address will touch on a number of issues resonating with successes and challenges in the economic and social front, the main attraction shall be the Economic Stimulus package, which was announced at a special congress of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) recently.
The State-of-the-Nation-Address marks the beginning of a Parliament session that runs from November to July the following year. The President is also expected to address poverty, unemployment, water, and electricity, among other matters. In addition the business community wants the President to touch on the issue of issuance of VISAs and work permits to foreign nationals. This has become a major concern to the business community.
Dr Khama is expected to put to rest the debate as to what the Stimulus entails – as they say the devil is in the detail. Weekend Post has gathered that committees have been set up to come up with packages for the effective implementation of the package which shall be supervised by District Commissioners who were recently transferred to the Office of the President.
At the time of the announcement, President Khama indicated that Botswana will use some of its foreign currency reserves to fund an economic stimulus program, admitting that growth in Africa’s largest diamond producer has slowed.
He said the objective of the Stimulus is “to stimulate the economy for accelerated employment creation and diversification.” Khama’s proclamation excited some but still got some jittery. Economists welcomed the move but threw in words of caution while politicians from the opposing parties deducted a knee-jerk reaction following the ruling party’s poor performance at the general elections and the continuation of a slump at bye-elections.
But one thing has echoed from all angles, “The devil is in the detail”. A lot of people are interested in the package itself, its implementation modalities, and procurement issues around it. Botswana had foreign reserves of 88.1 billion pula ($8.55 billion) as of July, according to the Bank of Botswana.
President Khama said the stimulus plan will target tourism, farming, the construction of buildings and roads and manufacturing. The committees set up to come design the Stimulus packages have been modelled on the key areas mentioned by Khama.
Forecasts indicate that Botswana’s budget will swing to shortfall of P4.03 billion in the year ending March 2016 from a surplus of P3.67 billion in the previous year, due largely to depressed sales of rough diamonds and low prices for metals.
In his words to mark belief in the Stimulus package, Khama had said: “We have now seen that if we cut projects, our economy is going to stagnate. We have built up sufficient reserves and the time has come to use these reserves.”
Politically this is seen as a move to counter a resurgent opposition, especially the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which is seen to be winning the hearts of many, especially the youth. There was method as to why the package was introduced at a political gathering and not to wait for President to deliver the State of the Nation Address.
However Khama and his team are of the view that they are responding to the economic data, they want to create jobs and alleviate absolute poverty.
The program includes fast-tracking the provision of services to 37,000 plots of land, building 4,480 houses and accommodation for teachers and nurses.
The government plans to build 144 school classrooms and more than 90 laboratories, plus new roads in the towns of Lobatse, Molepolole and Francistown. But to some, the concern is how the jobs are going to be awarded because they are of the view that the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) procedures will be thrown out of the window.
Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi had declared at a Job Summit organised by One Source Consultancy that contractors should be onsite by November 30th this year. This gave an indication that the process is moving on fast.
PARLIAMENT TO SWEAR IN LOTLAAMORENG
Away from the much anticipated detail on the Stimulus Package the first meeting of the second session of the 11th Parliament will witness the swearing in of the parliamentary elect for Good Hope-Mabule, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II.
Kgosi Lotlaamoreng of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) replaces former MP for Good Hope-Mabule, Mr James Mathokgwane, also from UDC, who resigned the post in May. It is estimated that the meeting will last five weeks and will end on or around December 11.
The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.
At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.
“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.
This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.
He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.
Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.
Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.
In Botswana, a beacon of democracy in Africa, the right to participate in the political discourse is a cornerstone of its societal structure. It’s an avenue through which citizens shape the rules and systems that govern their everyday lives. Despite this, recent studies indicate that Individuals with Disabilities (IWDs) are notably absent from political dialogues and face substantial hurdles in exercising their democratic freedoms.
Research within the nation has uncovered that IWDs encounter difficulties in engaging fully with the political process, with a pronounced gap in activities beyond mere voting. The call for environments that are both accessible and welcoming to IWDs is loud, with one participant, who has a physical disability, spotlighting the absence of ramps at voting venues and the dire need for enhanced support to facilitate equitable involvement in the electoral process.
The challenges highlighted by the study participants pinpoint the structural and social obstacles that deter IWDs from participating wholly in democracy. The inaccessibility of voting facilities and the lack of special accommodations for people with disabilities are critical barriers. Those with more significant or intellectual disabilities face even steeper challenges, often feeling marginalized and detached from political engagement.
To surmount these obstacles, there is an urgent appeal for Botswana to stride towards more inclusive and accessible political stages for IWDs. This necessitates a committed effort from both the government and relevant entities to enforce laws and policies that protect the rights of IWDs to partake in the political framework. Enhancing awareness and understanding of the political landscape among IWDs, alongside integrating inclusive practices within political entities and governmental bodies, is crucial.
By dismantling these barriers and nurturing an inclusive political environment, Botswana can live up to its democratic ideals, ensuring every citizen, regardless of ability, can have a substantive stake in the country’s political future.
Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.
A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.
The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.
Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.
By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.