Despite substantive efforts to re-ignite recovery, global economic growth remains low and unemployment persistently high. The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 calls for productivity-enhancing reforms to break with this pattern.
Botswana is ranked at position 71 out of 140 countries in the 2015-2016 report and the stats are not appealing to the eye on a number of pillars. In the last report Botswana was ranked 74 out 144 countries. The latest ranking cannot be regarded as an improvement because of the decrease in the number of overall countries participating in the rankings.
Poor work ethic in the labour force is one of the major concerns for Botswana. Based on the fact that the rankings are based on the opinion of various stakeholders including the business community, it is assumed that these views reflect what the employers are saying about the country’s workforce.
A score of 19.0 in this category almost puts the country at emergency status when it comes to this category, there is need to initiate positive changes in this area. In emerging markets and developing countries in particular, there is scope for raising productivity through structural reforms. In addition the report states that raising productivity growth increases potential output and can contribute to boosting overall growth.
Inefficient government bureaucracy remains a teething problem. Botswana is seen as one of the countries with over-regulation is most sectors and this is seen to be hindrance to prosperity for the country. According to the report, potential investors shun countries with too many red-tapes and Botswana is a case in example. Botswana managed a score of 12.7 in this category.
Restrictive labour regulations are a headache in the country, the Global Competitiveness scorecard suggests. With a score of 11.9, it is clear that Botswana must revisit her labour regulations in order to compete meaningfully in the global space.
Recently the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs progress report indicated some intended changes in the country’s labour laws. Employers are of the view that dismissals and retrenchments have been crafted to become unnecessarily cumbersome.
Access to financing has also been identified to be a crippling factor to Botswana’s competitiveness. According to the report it is not easy to access finance in Botswana especially for start-up businesses. Botswana managed a score of 10.4 in this pillar.
In the last decade Botswana has open up the education sector, allowing private tertiary institutions to receive government funded students into their campuses with the hope to improve the higher learning ranking.
But the latest Global Competitiveness report fingers an ‘inadequately educated workforce’ as one of the reasons why the country ranks lowly in the world, with a score of 9.3, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development may want to engage stakeholders, especially the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC), partners in the production of this report, to identify problem areas.
The business community has complained about the quality of graduates in some instances, noting that the education sector must forge further working relations with industry to produce the right candidates for Botswana’s job market. The Global Competitiveness Report says strong vocational skills remain an important source of comparative advantage.
Inadequate supply of infrastructure hampers Botswana’s competitiveness and also jeopardises chances of prosperity as espoused by the country’s Vision 2016 and probably the new Vision. The main problem areas are in the area of water and energy as evidenced by recent developments. However lately government has taken bold steps in these areas, with the Minister of Minerals, Energy, and Water Resources reporting directly to Cabinet on projects earmarked to address these sectors.
Corruption is also top on factors that affect Botswana’s competitiveness and so is insufficient capacity to innovate.
Crime and theft; Tax rates; Inflation; Policy instability; Complexity of tax regulations; Poor public health; Government instability/coups; and Foreign currency regulations are not real concerns for Botswana, the country is doing well on these fronts and is competing at international level.
Leveraging the human factor
According to the report, at the heart of an economy’s competitiveness is its capacity to leverage talent. High unemployment figures weigh heavily on societies, risking not only prolonged lower demand but also the de-skilling of a significant segment of the labour force and growing discontent, the report states.
“This holds even truer in the post-crisis years, which coincide with a fundamental shift away from the traditional manufacturing industry while the widespread use of ICT is generating entirely new industries and disrupting others. Talent-driven economies are best equipped to adapt to the changes brought about by this tech revolution and to reap their benefits.”
A tool for policy-makers
“Growth recovery in unchartered territory will require recognizing that we need a shared assessment and understanding of the future sources of competitiveness. By reducing complexity and providing a tool to identify strengths and weaknesses and track progress, the Report serves to inform and support policy-makers, businesses and civil society in their development of a shared, long-term vision. Beyond the vision, enhancing competitiveness is a complex and often protracted process that demands difficult trade-offs, careful consideration for sequencing reforms and room for calibration in changing conditions. Steering the course towards enhanced competitiveness requires vigilance and commitment from all stakeholders and throughout the process, for which the Report serves as a guide and monitoring tool.”
Competitiveness drives resilience
The Global Competitiveness Report shows that competitiveness – understood as higher productivity – is a key driver of growth and resilience. The historic proportions of the economic crisis and the relative performance of economies since its onset in 2008 have shed light on how structural weaknesses can exacerbate the effects of, and hinder recovery from shocks.
During the crisis, the more competitive economies systematically outperformed the least competitive in terms of economic growth: they either withstood the crisis better or recovered more quickly. This result holds true at every stage of development.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 assesses the competitiveness landscape of 140 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity. The Report series remains the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide. In this year’s report, Switzerland, Singapore, United States of America, Germany, and the Netherlands, top the pile in that order.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.