The Chairman of the Southern District Council (SDC), Mephato Reatile has called on Councils not to be apologetic in their bid to empower citizens. Delivering his maiden address to the Council recently, Reatile said he fully associates with the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy adopted by parliament in 2012.
I was a member of parliament then, and I strongly supported the draft policy. Parliament passed the policy because it recognised that our national development strategy cannot succeed when Batswana are left marginalized away from fully participating in the building of their own economy.
“This is our country and we must not be apologetic about empowering our people. If we fail to do so, where do we expect them to get empowerment to a point where they are able to prosper and graduate from being concentrated at the SMMEs level to become captains of their respective industries and commerce in general?”
Reatile said as Southern District Council, they must endeavour to make concerted efforts to ensure that this worthy legislation is implemented and given full expression through procurement processes that place Batswana, especially young entrepreneurs and SMMEs in general at the forefront of economic activity.
“Within the framework of existing procurement processes, let us strive to elevate our Council to a position where it will be admired for being the hub of citizen economic empowerment. For as long as they operate within the law I urge our technocrats to be bold and take that extra step in making our empowerment drive a reality,” he stressed.
Reatile said as politicians, they cannot micromanage procurement of goods and services, but they have a duty to exercise strong oversight through committees and ensure the empowerment drive is fairly implemented to a point where sons and daughters of the privileged and the less privileged will be inspired to dream big and work hard towards realizing their dream.
“And they can only muster that courage and inspiration if they know that only their brainpower and hard-work is the passport to winning business in their own council. I want you all not to misunderstand me to be saying non-citizens are prohibited from bidding for projects and supply of goods and services in Southern District,” he observed.
Reatile said Botswana’s laws give non-citizens the right to participate but in doing so, he encouraged them to go into joint ventures with locals even where it is not a tender requirement. “After all, we will certainly struggle if we were to try to come up with at least one name of a country that was able to prospering without an input from citizens of other countries.”
He said non-Batswana companies which make such an the effort must be recognised by extending preferential treatment in the award of tenders because in so doing government will be helping them transfer skills and best practises to their local partners.
He said at SDC, the political leadership of the council shall work together with the leadership of the administrative wing of the council to work-out exactly how the empowerment drive shall be roll-out.
Still on the subject of economic empowerment, Reatile further made an undertaking to establish the Southern District Business Forum/Economic Forum. He said the mandate of the forum shall be to pull together various stakeholders for the purpose of addressing issues of trade and commerce; identify and exploit available economic opportunities that the district has.
“All shall take part in the forum, right from our VDCs to business community, central government organs, public enterprises and others crucial partners we shall together agree on. While more information on the forum shall be communicated to the entire district in due course, it is worth emphasizing that it need be remembered that the be all and end all of the forum is to improve the status of economy of our beloved district.”
The chairman observed that the district needs to harness its economic power, from tourism and hospitality to mining; retail; to fashion, arts and entertainment; commercial farming; sports and; the service sector to mention but a few of what can make up the economy of this district. He observed that the initiative extends to bringing our ever vibrant informal sector closer to the mainstream of our local economy.
This shall be attained through targeted interventions. “Once again, I appeal to you all to humble me and indeed our council, both its political and administrative wings. If we get it right from our first attempt, then Southern District would be poised to become a model for other local authorities on how best to deliver meaningful citizen economic empowerment.”
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.