Botswana currently has an unemployment rate of 19.8% and we are confronted with a socio-economic challenge of great proportions as the largest demography in our society, who also represent the majority of them unemployed; are the most affected, as is reflected by a 28.7% Youth (15-35 years) unemployment rate (Botswana AIDS Impact Survey IV, 2013).
This has proven to be a challenge that reminds us that our past achievements give us no room for complacency; a challenge that confirms the need for a more sustainable development model, where all actors in the economy facilitate growth. Together we can transform the state of affairs.
His Excellency the President has tasked me with leading the employment creation drive and I invite you all to become partners in this endeavour. A cross section of captains of industry are represented here and our main aim is to seek sustainable solutions to employment creation.
This is a challenge that requires both short and long term remedies, it requires brevity and conviction. Government does not have a monopoly of ideas in resolving this challenge. With that said, we are gathered here this morning expecting diverse, innovative ideas which will be appealing to their intended recipients, from people who routinely think out of the box. We are expecting no less than exceptional!
As I hope you are aware, this government has pronounced the following areas as priorities for urgent attention through His Excellency the President's Pledge Card during the run up to the 2014 elections. That is the mandate that we have, to: a. Make job creation priority number 1 b. Take Batswana out of poverty c. Increase resources for education d. Eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV e. Fight corruption in all its manifestations
What is required are successful businesses which generate sustainable employment and I am certain that you all have given the matter due consideration and that our meeting will lay foundation from which we will be able to develop, going forward. I look forward to your contributions towards achieving these goals, for posterity.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, youth unemployment in particular is a global challenge. Like the rest of the world, Botswana government and businesses face a conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with requisite critical skills. It is from this correlation that the government has identified employment creation as one of the key priorities.
Needless to say, government alone cannot create jobs, that era passed post independence. The best that government can and must do is to effectively facilitate the private sector to foster successful businesses which would generate economic growth and create employment. Put simply, Government is an enabler, not a job creator.
Director of ceremonies, allow me to emphasise that Government acknowledges that in the broader framework of things, there is urgent need to develop alternative sources of economic growth. I must underscore that such sources must also generate substantial employment, in order to ensure equal access to economic opportunities by the majority of our population.
You would have found in your information packages, a verbatim transcript of a presentation by Professor Michael E. Porter of the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard University. The presentation was delivered to the Economic Committee of Cabinet just over two years ago. Professor Porter's recommendations were discussed & adopted by Government as pronounced in the Budget Speech (February, 2015). Our focus is on a diversified export-led economy derived from Diamonds, Tourism, Cattle, Mining, Financial and other service sectors. These will be based on the development of Clusters representing the value chain of the different sectors.
The Clusters will be facilitated by the Hub activities of Transport, Education, Health, Innovation and Communication. We are already seeing green shoots in these cluster areas not to mention other export generating home brands such as Choppies, Flotek and Letshego etc. All of you play a vital role in the value chain of the above areas of economic activity.
His Excellency the President has previously requested BOCCIM through the High Level Consultative structures to formulate concrete proposals to eliminate Government Red Tape which hampers the growth of the Private Sector. The proposals were enhanced by turning to the World Bank who through a consultancy involving the Private Sector has made recommendations resulting in a recent Cabinet Decision on the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms. I am happy to announce that implementation of the reform programme has commenced, and is expected to address the many impediments the private sector is currently ceased with.
Some of the adopted reforms include: abolishing pre-permit inspection of premises; limiting the number of licenses and permits; adopting a Unique Identification Number for business; decoupling of tax issues from other activities like Construction Permit Procedures, property registration; liberalisation of services and works for power production and supply; outsourcing some state functions to the private sector; improving efficiency in the distribution of power thus decentralising the management of the process by allowing the clients/applicants to contract the service provider directly; and privatising state owned companies as a source of transferring industrial, technological and managerial know-how into the country. I am certain that there are other areas which need improvement such as accelerating the turnaround time for processing work and resident permits and efficiency of so doing, to meet your needs. We welcome not just your complaints but concrete proposals for solutions which would improve the Ease of Doing Business.
Over and above policy pronouncements, Government continues to invest in projects that offer vast opportunities for meaningful private sector participation and a potential for job creation. For example, several dams were constructed during the current planning period such as Letsibogo, Lotsane and Thune dams, with potential for irrigated agriculture and tourism development. We concede that such opportunities also challenge us as Government to be open minded as the facilitator. I know you all have other examples of where you can play a significant role, and we welcome your ideas as we develop the roadmap.
We have implemented other initiatives such as the current Internship Programme and we have observed that the majority of these interns are with government. I appeal to you, the private sector, to enrol a significant number of our graduates and give them meaningful challenges and tasks. Please do your part in giving these young people their first, requisite experience for future employment, which will make them more marketable. Make time to mentor them in workplace decorum so that they become highly sought after players in the local and global economies.
BOCCIM and your private sector membership have been participating in the Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) which have been considering the Vision Beyond 2016 Framework document, in preparation for public consultations anchored on work done by Professor Porter. I am reliably informed that Employment Creation is one of the priorities in the Vision Framework document. Your recommendations for Employment Creation need to be captured in these processes to ensure appropriate resource allocation towards employment creation, in the National Development Plan 11, which will also be developed in the near future. The latter consultations through the TWGs will also commence shortly.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as I draw to conclusion, I wish to emphasize that it is not just your challenges that we wish to hear. We look forward to your innovative ideas and creative solutions for growth of the economy and employment in particular. Please feel free to express your thoughts today as well as by engaging the National Strategy Office which will involve you in reviewing your much anticipated creative solutions and escalate the proposals to my office.
I once again wish to thank you most heartily for making time to be here this morning. Your continued ownership for the development of our country has not gone unnoticed. As we interact, let us broaden our horizons to identify mutually beneficial policies and programmes that will promote sustainable employment for development and put Batswana to work. Our collective efforts driven by and anchored on our common goal will be achieved with your active participation. I look forward to a prolific meeting which will facilitate long lasting solutions going forward. I thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.
Remarks by Vice President Mokgweetsi E. Masisi at thursday’s job creation meeting with the private sector
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.