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.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.