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Biggest stumbling blocks to Botswana’s prosperity – Report

Poor work ethic in labour force

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.

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Details emerge in suspected Batswana poachers in Namibia

28th June 2022
suspected Motswana poacher arrested

New details about a suspected Motswana poacher arrested in Namibian and his accomplice who is on the run were revealed when the suspect appeared in court this week.

The Motswana Citizen who was shot and wounded by Namibia’s anti poaching unit is facing criminal charges under criminal case number (CR NO 10/06/2022) which was registered at the Divundu Police Station in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East Region on 10 June 2022.

It is alleged that a patrol team laid an ambush after discovering a giraffe’s fresh carcass in a snare wire and hanging biltong.  According to the Charge Sheet, the suspect Djeke Dihutu, aged 40 years, is charged with contravening and transgressions of Nature Conservation Ordinance andcontravening Immigration Act 07 in Mahango Wildlife Core Area, Bwabwata National Park. Dihutu’s first court appearance was on the 17th of June 2022, Rundu and it was postponed to the 07 July 2022. He is currently hospitalized in hospital under Police Guards.

Commenting on this latest development, the Namibian Lives Matter Movement National Chairperson Sinvula Mudabeti applauded the Namibian Anti Poaching Unit for its compliance with what it called the universal instrument on the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/169.

“We are aware that the duties of the police carry a great deal of risk, but our police has shown that they have a moral calling and obligation to protect even foreigners suspected of serious crimes on Namibian soil,” said Mudabeti.

According to him, whereas the Botswana Police Service, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS) have “very low moral ethics, integrity, accountability and honesty, the Namibian security agencies has shown very high levels of ethical leadership in the discharge of their duties even under duress.”

He said Namibian’s anti poaching unit has exercised one very important value, that is, the use of force only when it is reasonable and necessary. Mudabeti said this is in harmony with international best practices as enshrined in Article 2 of the UN instrument on law enforcement conduct, “In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.

Our police have protected the life of a Botswana poacher and accorded him dignity, which is very foreign to our Botswana counterparts,” he said. He said article 3 of the same instrument above, calls for Law enforcement officials to use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.

“This provision emphasizes that the use of force by law enforcement officials should be exceptional; while it implies that law enforcement officials may be authorized to use force as is reasonably necessary under the circumstances for the prevention of crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of suspected offenders, no force going beyond that was used by our Police,” he said.

Furthermore, Mudabeti said, whereas the universally accepted norm of the law of proportionality ordinarily permits the use of force by law enforcement, it is to be understood that such principles of proportionality in no case should be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved.

“Our police have used force proportional to the situation at hand. Great work indeed! Article 6 urges law enforcement officials to ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required,” he said.

Mudabeti said the Botswana poacher was immediately taken to hospital whereas the Nchindo brothers who were captured on Namibian soil, beaten, tortured and executed while pleading to be taken to the hospital we left to die.

“The Namibian Doctor gave evidence in court that Sinvula Munyeme’s lungs showed signs of life (during the autopsy) and that he could have survived if he was accorded immediate medical assistance in time but was left to die while BDF soldiers looked and possibly ignored his cry for help,” he said.

Mudabeti said unlike in Botswana where there are no clear separation of powers between the BDF, Botswana Police Service, Department of Intelligence and their Directorate of Public Prosecutions,” we have a system that allows for checks and balances and allows our people and foreigners who are found on the wrong side of the law to be accorded the right to a fair trial.”

He said Botswana citizens are treated with dignity when apprehended in Namibia and not assaulted, tortured and executed. “We are a civilized country that respects international law in dealing with non-Namibian criminals. The Namibian Police have not mistreated the Botswana poacher but have given him the benefit of the doubt by allowing due processes of the law to be followed,” he said.

He added that, “We are a peace loving nation that has not repaid Botswana by the evil that Botswana has done to Namibia by killing more than 37 innocent and unarmed Namibians by the trigger happy BDF.” He concluded that, “Our acts of mercy in arresting Botswana citizens should never be mistaken for cowardice.”

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Gov’t, Unions clash over accommodation

28th June 2022
accomodation

The government has reportedly taken a decision to terminate provision of pool housing and subsidy for civil servants as it attempts to trim the public service wage bill.

This emerges in a dispute that is currently before the Labour Office headquarters lodged by unions representing thousands of civil servants across the country. This publication understands that the decision to cease providing pool housing and rental subsidy for public officers is part of proposals that government put on the table during its negotiations with public service unions in order for it to adjust salaries.

A letter from Labour Office addressed to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) shows that the directorate is cited as the First Respondent. The letter is titled, “Dispute lodged: Cessation of provision of pool housing and subsidy for pubic officers.”

“This serves as a notification and requirement to a mediation hearing,” the letter informed DPSM. According to the letter, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Land Board &Local Authorities &Health workers Union (BLLAHW) who lodged the complaint are cited as the Applicant.

“Please come for mediation hearing. The hearing will be conducted by Mr Lebang. The hearing is scheduled for date/time 29th June 2022, 09: 00HOURS at Block 8 District Labour Office, Gaborone. Please bring all relevant documents,” reads the letter in part.

According to a document described as a proposal paper on the negotiations on salaries and other conditions of employment of public officers by the employer (government), the government did not only propose to stop providing accommodation to civil servants but also put a number of proposals on the table.

The proposal papers states that the negotiations (which have since been concluded) cover three government financial years; 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. The government proposed an across the board salary adjustments as follows; 3% for the financial year 2022/23 effective 1st April 2022, across the board salary adjustment of 3.5% for the financial year 2023/24 effective 1st April 2023 subject to performance of the economy and across the board salary adjustment of 4% for the financial year 2024/25 effective 1st April 2024 subject to performance of the economy.

The government also proposed phasing out of retention and attractive (Scarce Skills) Allowance with a view to migration towards clean pay, renegotiate and set new timelines for all outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement, executed by the employer and trade unions on the 27th August 2019, to ensure proper sequencing, alignment and proper implementation.
The government also proposed to freeze public service recruitment for the 2022/23 financial year and withdraw the financial equivalence of P500 million attached to vacancies from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Another proposal included phasing out of commuted overtime allowance and payment of overtime in accordance with the law and review human resource policies during the financial year 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The government argued that its proposals were premised on affordability and sustainability adding that it was important to underscore that the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers was taking place at a time when there were uncertainties both in the global and domestic economies.

“Furthermore there is need to ensure that any collective labour agreement that is concluded does not breach the fiscal deficit target of 4% of GDP,” the proposal paper stated. The proposal paper further indicated that beyond salary adjustments, the Government of Botswana is of the view that a more comprehensive consideration “must be taken on the issue of remuneration in the public service by embracing principles such as total rewards compensation which involves taking a fully comprehensive and holistic approach to how our organization compensates employees for the work.”

The proposal paper also noted that, “Clearly, the increase in salaries and changes to other conditions of service which have monetary consequences will further increase the proportion of the budget taken by salaries, allowances and other monetary based conditions of services.”

“The consequential effect would be a reduction of the portion that can be used for other recurrent budget needs (e.g. maintenance of assets, consumable supplies such as medicines and books) and for development projects,” the proposal states.

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BPF NEC probes Serowe squabbles

28th June 2022
BPF

Opposition Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) National Executive Committee will in no time investigate charges party members worked with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) membership to tip the scales in favour of the latter for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship in exchange for deputy seat in a dramatic 11th hour gentleman’s deal, leaving the ruling party splinter under the political microscope.

In a spectacular Sub-council election membership last Thursday, the ruling BDP’s Lesedi Phuthego beat Atamelang Thaga with 14 votes to 12 for Serowe Sub-council Chairmanship coveted seat and subsequently the ruling party’s councilor Bernard Kenosi withdrew his candidacy in the final hour for the equally admired deputy chair paving the way for Solomon Dikgang of BPF, seen as long sealed ‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’ gentleman’s agreement between the contenders.

Both parties entered the race with a tie of votes torn between 12 councillors each, translating for election race that will go down to the wire definitely. But that will not be the case as two BPF councilors shifted their allegiance to the ruling party during the first race for Chairmanship held in a secret ballot and no sooner was the election concluded then the ruling party answered back by withdrawing its candidacy for the deputy chair position to give BPF’s Dikgang the post on a silver platter unopposed.

BPF councilor Vuyo Notha confirmed the incident in an interview on Wednesday, insisting the party NEC was determined to “investigate the matter soon”. “During the race for the Chairmanship, two more BPF voted for alongside the ruling party membership. It was clear Dikgang voted alongside the BDP as immediately after the vote for Chairmanship was concluded, Kenosi withdraw his candidacy to render Dikgang unopposed as a payback,” Notha added.

As for the other vote, Makolo ward councilor will not be drawn for the identity preferring instead to say: “BPF NEC will convene all the councilors to investigate the matter soon and we will take from there.” Notha will also not be drawn to conclude may be the culprit councilors could have defected to the ruling party silently.

“If they are no longer part of us they should say so and a by-election be called,” was all he could say. As it stands now, the law forbids sitting Councilors and Parliamentarians from crossing the floor to another party as to do so will immediately invite for a new election as dictated by the law. Incumbent politicians will therefore dare not venture for the unknown with a by-election that could definitely cost their political life and certainly their full benefits.

Notha could also not be dragged to link the culprit councilors actions to BPF Serowe region Chairperson Tebo Thokweng who has silently defected to the ruling party and currently employed by the party businessman and former candidate for Serowe West Moemedi Dijeng as PRO for the highly anticipated cattle abattoir project in Serowe.

“As for Thokweng he has not resigned from the party but from the region’s chairmanship,” he said. WeekendPost investigations suggest Thokweng is the secret snipper behind the recruitment drive of the votes for the elections and is determined to tear the party dominance in Serowe and the neighbouring villages asunder including in Palapye going forward.

This publication’s investigations also show BPF’s Radisele and UDC’s Mokgware/Mogome councilors are under the radar of investigations for the votes-themselves associated with the workings and operations of Thokweng.

“NEC will definitely leave no stone unturned with their investigations to get into the bottom of the matter. Disciplinary actions will follow certainly,” Notha concluded, underscoring the need to toe the party line to set a good precedent. For the youthful councilor, the actions of his peers has set a wrong precedent which has to be dealt with seriously to deter future culprits.

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