As is custom, when the fifth President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, took over office on 1st April 2018 he gave his inaugural speech.
Today, almost a year since he gave the speech, which admittedly brought a lot of hope to our people, the question is whether or not he has delivered on the commitments and promises he made during the speech. In this series, we examine this question. But, before doing that it is only fair that we remind our readers of the commitments and promises that H.E Dr. Masisi made during his inaugural speech. Therefore, this week we merely state those commitments and promises without commenting on delivery or lack thereof in respect of such.
H.E Dr. Masisi premised his speech on the undertaking that, in carrying out his duties, the touchstone shall remain the oath he had just made to uphold the Constitution, the rule of law, and maintenance of national unity, peace and prosperity. During his inaugural speech, H.E Dr. Masisi made a commitment to promote respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and the spirit of consultation or therisanyo and Botho; and the attainment of an inclusive society that ensures the material and social wellbeing of all our citizens.
He also undertook to build a Botswana in which sustained development is underpinned by economic diversification, promising to eradicate poverty and social exclusion in order to build a society that provides opportunity and dignity for all. He further promised to build a modern Botswana that is not only open but is also able to openly compete with the rest of the world while maintaining Botswana’s founding principles of Democracy, Self-Reliance, Development, Unity and Botho.
He made a firm commitment to address the problem of unemployment, especially amongst the youth who constitute about 60% of the population, something which he rightly said will address such ills as poverty, crime, HIV and AIDS and alcohol and drug abuse. H.E Dr. Masisi commited to prioritise stimulation of accelerated economic growth through scaling up access to technical and vocational education and training opportunities; promoting digitisation across both the public and private sectors and devising smarter ways of tackling our poor education attainment at every level to make it more competitive.
He undertook to stimulate accelerated economic growth by ensuring that Development Financing Institutions become more proactive and responsive so as to better serve the requirements of their current and prospective clientele as well as helping government to achieve the goals of citizen economic empowerment initiatives. H.E Dr. Masisi vowed that his government will compel accountants and tax advisors to pay their first professional allegiance in the discharge of their duties to the nation by ensuring that their clients pay, in full, taxes that are legitimately due.
His commitment to stimulate accelerated economic growth by continuing with measures to ensure the Ease of Doing Business for foreign and domestic investors alike was unwavering. The same applies to his commitment to promote the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), an important strategy which he said is aimed at giving Batswana an opportunity to set up industries to empower themselves and, in turn, to create the much-needed employment.
Acknowledging its invaluable role in economic growth, he undertook to give potency to Botswana’s economic diversification aspirations by prioritizing the implementation of Cluster Development across various sectors, particularly the prioritized sectors of diamond beneficiation, tourism, beef, mining and financial services. H.E Dr. Masisi made an undertaking that government will also expedite the implementation of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which, he said, will contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of this country.
He made a solemn commitment that his government will particularly intensify its efforts to revitalise the economy of the SPEDU region to effectively respond to the closure and liquidation of the BCL mine. H.E Dr. Masisi made a commitment to strengthen, consolidate and intensify the partnership between government and the private sector which, he rightly said, would propel this country to greater heights in terms of economic stimulation, job creation and sustainable economic growth.
He stated that Botswana will intensify her efforts to unlock market and business opportunities for our industries presented in global trade through such agreements as the SADC Free Trade Area, Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, AGOA, SADC/EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the bilateral agreements Botswana has with other countries and development partners.
He buttressed this undertaking by promising that Botswana will step up through a combined use of her bilateral and multilateral relations, immigration, investment policies and technocratic applications. It was H.E Dr. Masisi’s pledge that government will also continue to invest in infrastructural development projects across various sectors including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), water, energy, transport and road networks, to create an enabling environment for commerce and industry, as well as to stimulate the economy.
He stated that in line with Vision 2036, which he said is aligned to the 2030 United Nations Agenda on Sustainable Development and Africa’s Agenda 2063, investment in research, science, technology and innovation will be prioritised to enable Botswana’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy. In that regard, he undertook to ensure that the transformation of education and training, through the Human Resource Development Strategy of 2009, receives all the necessary support in order to ensure that education meets the needs of industry.
H.E Dr. Masisi assured Batswana that as part of the reforms proposed by the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2015-2020, his government will introduce pre-primary education as well as expanding such school facilities as classrooms, teachers’ quarters and building new primary and secondary schools throughout the country to respond to the growing population of our towns, villages and settlements.
He promised that his government will continue to focus and intensify the maintenance of the existing school facilities to ensure an enabling environment for effective delivery of the education, learning and training programmes. He said his government will not hesitate to intervene, where necessary, to cause the inclusion of new primary and secondary schools in the current NDP11 as per the dictates of Botswana’s population dynamics. This, he said, will all be done to to improve the quality of our education system as well as ensuring universal access to pre-primary, primary and secondary education.
H.E Dr. Masisi said for this to happen, his government will also continue intensifying and sharpening teacher training, re-training and retooling to build their capacity to adapt to the ever-changing education environment, especially in the areas of ICT. He assured Batswana that through such programmes as Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector.
This, he said, is cardinal if agriculture is to contribute to economic growth, diversification and the achievement of food security at household and national levels. He said his government will, in order to boost agricultural output, start an aggressive programme of land use intensification while protecting the inalienable rights of land holders starting April this year.
With regard to the tourism sector which he said has potential to significantly contribute to the growth and diversification of Botswana’s economy, he promised that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism.
H.E Dr. Masisi undertook that his government will, additionally, rejuvenate the capacity of citizens to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector, stating that steps will be taken to ensure that game farming, as an enterprise, is promoted so that it becomes attractive and profitable. He reaffirmed that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions by combining treatment, care and support, stating that a rejuvenated attention on the major determinants of our national health practices including the manner of response to HIV and AIDS will be given.
He promised that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana, especially the youth, stating that government will continue giving priority to the Youth when allocating land for agriculture and business purposes.
H.E Dr. Masisi affirmed that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. Identifying a neutral, apolitical and professional public service as one of the elements that Botswana prides herself with, he promised to uphold them and urged all Batswana to be vigilant in order to maintain the peace and security that this country has enjoyed for more than five decades.
He promised to be steadfast in the fight against corruption, stating that that is imperative if we are to safeguard the hopes and dreams of all Batswana for current and future generations. He, therefore, undertook to continue strengthening oversight institutions, and exacting the full might of the law to ensure that the fight against corruption in all its forms and manifestations is won.
He made a commitment that though Botswana is a small country, in terms of population, he will ensure that she continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security.
H.E Dr. Masisi made a commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people, promising that, under his leadership, our relations with other countries will be enhanced for the benefit of Botswana and her economy.
He stated that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond, stating that he will do his utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours. He promised to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities soon. Ndulamo Anthony Morima
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.