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Decline in accountability hurts implementation – BIDPA

BIDPA SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW: Keneilwe Marata

Senior Research fellows at the Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), Gape Kaboyakgosi and Keneilwe Marata have pinpointed key factors that have led to implementation challenges in Botswana. They noted that for public policy goals to be realized, implementation needs to be optimized.


According to the Researchers, these include declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, and a decline in commitment by state authorities and the declining credibility of the government’s ability to adhere to its policies, among other factors. These challenges emerge as strong bottlenecks to optimal policy implementation.


Lack of commitment to selected policy choices is emerging as an important challenge for project implementation. Kaboyakgosi and Marata posit that since the turn of the new millennium, the government has increasingly created and adopted policies to which it does not adhere.


They cite that policy commitment assists in building state credibility (when dealing with outsiders such as investors), and certainty among the locals. They also give a number of examples that show failure in this respect:

• The failure to privatize Air Botswana after the Government had called for international bidders to buy a stake in the national airliner, including the government spending funds in procuring an international transaction advisor,

• The failure to procure a private sector partner to develop the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) campus in Palapye in partnership with the Government, as had been promised. Though the Government’s call for a partner resulted in two such partners posting a P1 million each, the fate of the two bonds of one million Pula each that were posted remain unclear

• Commitment to the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Policy appears half-hearted. Whereas the policy was adopted by Parliament, there appears to be little enthusiasm for PPPs and there is insufficient explanation why this is so. Thirteen years after the adoption of the Public-Private Partnership Policy and Framework, only two minor undertakings have been carried out under the PPP framework.


According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, besides the slowing momentum of policy implementation, the policy reversals mentioned above have other costs. They observed that a committee charged with reviewing the implementation failures associated with building the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), came up with a number of costs likely to result from policy reversals related to the project.

These include uncertainty of investment returns, impact on investor confidence, and adverse impact on the international marketing of Botswana projects, negative perception of government commitment, and the erosion of reputation in the medium term.


The BIDPA researchers also point out that Botswana appears to be experiencing a steady decline in accountability. Botswana’s public accountability has declined from 75 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank Institute, they write. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, optimal public accountability ensures that goals are not diverted, and excesses are kept at a minimal, but holding politicians and public servants accountable for their actions (or omissions) is diminishing in Botswana.


“Such a culture pervades the civil service and state owned corporations. In the civil service, the limited capacity for oversight by Parliament and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) compounds the problem.

Parliament comes into contact with the budget on the day the speech is read by the Minister in charge of finance and development planning. Parliament then has only a month to debate a document that has taken ten times longer to prepare, with little access to the parameters that informed the same budget(s). Similarly, the OAG lacks the authority to enforce some of the decisions it makes in relation to poor management of public resources, leading to repeated malpractice,” wrote Kaboyakgosi and Marata.


The two Researchers poke further by stating that: “Where state owned corporations are concerned, a number of parliamentary inquiries have revealed a worrying trend that points to lack of accountability. Committees set up to investigate poor performance at the Botswana Meat Commission (Republic of Botswana 2013) and the failure of the Palapye Glass Project both conclude that the major causes of failure include poor corporate governance, lack of due diligence, failure to contain prices, and poor project management. Poor accountability results in implementing agents not taking their tasks seriously, misappropriating funds, or changing the goals of policy.”


They are also concerned by the reluctance to reform. Kaboyakgosi and Marata observe that since the turn of the century, Botswana’s rankings in certain policy areas, particularly those concerned with industrial development, diversification, and competitiveness and doing business have been declining steadily. Initially adept at reforming her political, economic, legal and other frameworks, Botswana’s reluctance to reform is becoming more pronounced. The submit that the decline as shown by indicators such as the Doing Business Index (DBI) and the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) suggests an unwillingness by Botswana to reform policies and laws to respond to a changing world.


“While it is arguable that the DBI shows some growth for the period under review, such growth is minimal, given the urgency to position Botswana as a destination of choice for foreign direct investment. The GCI on the other hand shows a steady decline in performance, from number 56 best countries in the world in 2008 to number 80 by 2011,”they wrote.


Another notable example of a reform process that has been abandoned quietly is the implementation of the results based monitoring and evaluation (RBM) inside the Government. RBM is used to generate information and data needed for evidence based policy making and it facilitates accountability and aids planning.


“Lack of commitment to reform is also evidenced by the failure to empower reform institutions, such as the National Strategy Office and the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA), thus rendering them incapable of driving reform. The NSO, a semiautonomous agency in the Office of the President, whose mandate includes coordinating the Botswana Excellence Strategy (BES), lacks legal authority to undertake certain aspects of its mandate. Similarly PEEPA, formed out of the Privatisation Policy for Botswana to advise the Government on the readiness of state owned institutions for privatization, has no legal basis to implement its mandate because it is a creation of a policy. As a result, neither one of these important agencies is able to enforce its mandate, leaving compliance and implementation to the discretion of the implementing agencies.”

The challenges of policy complexity

Another implementation challenge, according to the two BIDPA Researchers, is the growing complexity of the economy, administration and society. They point out that three challenges characterize complex implementation problems: The capacity to tackle complex problems is often distributed among actors; Complex problems are difficult to predict: many social, political and economic problems are not easy to forecast; and Complex problems often involve conflicting goals.


They insist that while many of the policy challenges facing the Government are complex, many implementation structures are ill-suited to handle complexity. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, the result of this is that implementers focus overly on one cause or effect, to the detriment of other equally important causes or effects of these policy challenges.


They buttress that Botswana’s persistent challenges such as poverty, the spread of HIV, slow diversifying economy and high unemployment have multiple causes and effects, so managing them is difficult. Many laws and policies, as well as agencies need to be mobilized to achieve positive outcomes.


In addition, Kaboyakgosi and Marata observed that another important implementation challenge is the propensity, particularly in the public sector, to undertake projects without due assessment of the need for such projects. They point out that projects are developed because of the ability of the Government to procure them than an assessed need for such projects. Examples include the following:

• Both the Francistown and Maun abattoirs to add to the original one at Lobatse resulted in the Botswana Meat Commission losing profitability as its cost structure rose.

• Undertaking the Morupule B Power Plant, BIUST, major dams all within a five year span constrained labour supply and drove construction prices up (MIST 2012), and

• Constructing vocational training colleges (VTCs), led to an over-supply of these, and an undersupply of students and instructors.


The BIDPA researchers state that Supply driven implementation has a number of undesirable consequences. Among these effects are that though undertaken at great financial cost, outputs of such implementation tend to have little relevance to the needs of the nation. Additionally, when projects are implemented without due regard for demand, priority areas are deprived of much needed funds.

“Added to the foregoing, projects implemented without due regard for the demand send wrong signals to the market; businesses tend to mobilize financial and other resources in response to what they see as public sector priorities, only for these to have minimal future sustainability. The consequences of this is that businesses may borrow money from banks, train and employ human resources and purchase materials, only for the Government priorities to change, saddling such businesses with expensive and idle facilities,” they wrote in their paper.


Kaboyakgosi and Marata further indicate that while there appears to be consensus that implementation challenges have become more pronounced in Botswana, there is no explanation for this problem. They state that until recently, lack of finance, which is one of the often cited implementation challenges, has not been a problem in Botswana. “However, this challenge is likely to gain prominence with the decline of mineral revenues. The next section therefore outlines some of the causes of Botswana’s implementation challenges”.


Furthermore, Botswana’s implementation challenges transcend economic and social policies as well as affect the capacity of the state to achieve many of its stated policy aims. According to Kaboyakgosi and Marata, a number of implementation challenges have since become prominent in Botswana and these include the persistence of HIV/AIDS, slow economic diversification, rising youth unemployment, poverty and social inequality.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021
Morwaeng

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021
Bokamoso

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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