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 Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).