ANOTHER LITERARY OFFERING: Former Cabinet Minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor David Magang has dispelled accolades heaped on Botswana as a prosperous nation, declaring it a failed nation which could have been far more successful.
Former Cabinet Minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang has blown away accolades heaped on Botswana as a prosperous nation, declaring it a failed nation which could have been far more successful given its potential.
His unapologetic remarks were minted out in his latest book titled “Delusions of Grandeur” which was launched on Wednesday this week in a star studded attendance at luxurious Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel. Magang, who previously published a controversial autobiography, titled “The Magic of Perseverance” in 2008, contends that Botswana is not and has never been a prosperous country and its economic management acumen is overrated.
In his latest offering, Magang contends that, although Botswana steered clear of the Resource Curse, it did not escape the clutches of the Diamantine Curse and has not realized its full economic potential because the people entrusted with charting its economic destiny seem to suffer from delusion of grandeur.
Magang believes that the accolades that Botswana gets from various organizations are a little more than sheer statistical hype as they cannot be reflected in the standard of living of the people of Botswana. Magang said it is ironic that, Botswana has at times been ranked ahead of South Africa in terms of prosperity when the latter has significantly better remunerated workforce, better infrastructure and has consistently contributed more than six US dollar billionaires to the Forbes Rich List billionaires.
“We should be wary of numbers that imbue in us a mere psychological thrill when there is precious little of substance in the facts on the ground to lend credence to them,” he wrote.
The former Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources said in the book that nearly 50 years after independence Botswana’s economy remains predominantly monocultural as it still depends on diamonds and has suffered a complete economy diversification failure.
Magang noted that had another country, like Singapore or Taiwan had similar privileges as Botswana, they would have been a heaven-on-earth, “a paradise”.
“We have no manufacturing industry worthy the word, and we import upwards of 80 percent of our foodstuffs from South Africa,” he observed, “In fact so beholden are we to the South African economy we are effectively its neo-colony.”
Magang said Botswana has failed to an extent that Agriculture, which at independence was the mainstay of economy now only accounts for less than 3 percent of GDP. “The result is that we continue to import tomatoes and vegetables from Big Brother next door after 48 years of independence, ao, batho ba modimo!,” lamented Magang.
Magang said if indeed Botswana’s economic management was prudent, Batswana should not be without work as economic managers would have long beneficiated to churn out a whole galaxy of downstream industries that would have guaranteed full employment.
“Staggering poverty exists in what is supposed to be the El Dorado of Africa and public sector salaries remain frugally meager,” he wrote, “Worse still the salaries are so constricted they can stay unchanged for five whole years,” he added.
Magang holds that income disparities are obscene and one of the wildest in the world, something which the former Kweneng East Member of Parliament contended condemns other sections of society to poverty.
“The highest paid civil servant takes home P49 000 every month while the lowest paid get P1 400. Because the latter are virtually illiterate and are at maximum potential when they mop floors, vacuum clean carpets, scrub toilets, and brew tea, they are deserving only a throwaway of 35 times removed from that of the degree-wielding Permanent Secretary to the President,” he observed.
Magang said lack of empowerment for citizens and failure to have well remunerating jobs have seen Batswana resorting to cheap Chinese clothes and Fong Kong cars dumped into Botswana’s desperate economy by now fabulous and rich Chinese, Japanese and Singaporeans.
The Phakalane Estates Chairman said because government has failed to put in place a citizen empowered mechanism, government by the virtue of it being infinitely richer than its people remains by far the guarantor of everybody’s survival. “Players in the private sector largely, and overwhelmingly, thrive on government expenditure, without it they are doomed, period,” he asserted.
“Our infrastructure is certainly rickety, insubstantial, and unimposing particularly to the investor,” Magang asserted.
Magang also revealed that a sense of culture built over years has resulted in a sense of entitlement where citizens are given handouts instead of being empowered to take care of themselves. He observed that this has been coupled with politics of populism which do not in any way resolve the problems but only postpone them.
Magang concluded that Botswana has only managed to move from being one of the poorest countries in the world to the level of an upper-middle income country but did not prosper to a scale it potentially should have. He said Botswana became complacent and was not seriously galvanized to bring meaningful economic diversification. ‘Because diamonds are so plentiful and they generated such enormous rents, government kind of relaxed, it practically went to sleep,” he observed.
Magang is of the view that diamonds failed to create significant jobs and said Debswana which employs about 4500 people, a mere drop in an ocean for a company with over P7 billion of revenues. He further compared Botswana’s diamond industry to Zambia’s copper industry, which he said created employment for up to 35 000 people and has annual revenue of US$2billion.
The proprietor conceded with the IMF 1999 report that Botswana’s growth manifested largely in capital accumulation and not employment creation. “Certainly Botswana has not benefited from De Beers’ manipulative and monopolistic stranglehold on the world diamond market, but this profit fundamentally went to government not to an ordinary Motswana as such in direct sense, he argued.
According to Magang, De Beers is responsible for Botswana’s lack of economic prosperity as it has deliberately kept the government in the dark about diamonds and what it can do for its economy in terms of job creation through beneficiation. He went on to accuse De Beers of trying to convince the government of Botswana over the years that diamond beneficiation would not work in Botswana.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.