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Botswana declared State in crisis

Botswana declared state in crisis

The recently released World Happiness Report (WHR) which placed Botswana at 146th position out of 149 nations surveyed, has substantiated what has been hypothesis of sceptics and observers and even coerced the civil society to air their views on the status quo and by extension, declared that this country might be ensnared in a crisis.

Botswana has never fared any better since the inception of the happiness index in 2012 under the administration of Lt General Ian Khama. It was expected to improve when President Mokgweetsi took reins in 2018, but it is apparent that tables are now turning for the worse with the shining example of democracy in Africa- Botswana- now three places from being the least happy nation in the world.

The report focuses on six key areas; Real GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruption. Each country is also compared against a hypothetical nation called Dystopia. Dystopia represents the lowest national averages for each key variable and is, along with residual error, used as a regression benchmark. Finland is the happiest country in the world.

The diminishing smiles from the country once tagged as a beacon of hope, especially to its populace, is worrying as it is one of the richest countries on the African continent endowed with minerals, abundant land, natural resources and cattle. Yet the people are some of the poorest and unhappiest, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Vice President, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang has posited.

According to former Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) President Master Oboletswe Matlhaope there is need to worry. “If indeed the research is genuine then we have every reason to worry, unhappiness results in other things that are explosive,” he said.

“We should look at inequality levels which is very huge in our country, again as a society we should ask ourselves if are we have a saving culture, are we secure, are we a debtful society do we have quality pension when we leave our jobs if not then it means there is fear from our people. Are we healthy, people have been suffering from TB, HIV and now Covid-19 and surely they are anxious and that may cause anger.”

It seems people are living in fear, suspicions and anxiety. Of most concern is their anger, it is very worrisome as it can lead to the un-imaginable at any point. “If we have a bunch of unhappy people you may ask yourself what is keeping them going, what keeps the peace and what keeps cohesion. We need to encourage prayer because it is the one that can keep us together. If we compromise it then we are headed for a disaster.”

Batswana’s unhappiness is clearly visible from the traffic, shopping malls and even radio calls, says one observer and even argues that as a nation we have never been happy-perhaps an argument for another day. The University of Botswana lecturer at the faculty of Social Work, Dr. Kgomotso Jongman concurs that Batswana are not happy and that begins from individual to familial set-up before it can be failure by government.

“It is twofold issue, micro and macro. At family level for example we hide key issues under the carpet and pretend to be happy only for us to burst at our work places or wherever we interact with others. This can be so because the very unhappy people are the ones tasked with crafting policies and those targeted for those policies or programmes will also feel they are vindictive and this causes a ripple effect,” said Dr Jongman.

The government however cannot be left out in relation to its population unhappy.

“The people are very reliant on government because since the discovery of the diamonds he has been a Father Christmas giving out and not promoting self-reliance. Now the kids (citizens) who are used to manna from heaven are bickering and there is chaos because they have never been taught how to fend for themselves,” he said.

Dr. Jongman backs the nation’s unhappiness saying the people’s anger is justified because “they have legitimate expectations from the government.” All the sectors be education, health and agriculture are falling and now the people are pointing fingers at each other because we have never experienced this, he added.

With war ravaged and poverty stricken countries like Chad and Gambia ranking above Botswana, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Vice President Dr. Gobotswang is shocked but not surprised.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is unacceptable. Unemployment and underemployment and poverty levels are high. Corruption, abuse of office and nepotism are institutionalized. People get jobs if they have connections, mediocrity is rewarded. There are several government assistance schemes that are inaccessible, hence the dissatisfaction among the population.

The economy is bleeding as 37 per cent of development budget goes to waste,” a seemingly unhappy Dr Gobotswang shared in an interview. The solution for all the grumbles according to Gobotswang is to strengthen oversight institutions like the Ombudsman, Parliament, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), and Directorate on Public Prosecution (DPP) so that they are truly independent.

“That requires an overhaul of the constitution. We need to introduce freedom of information law and change legislation on whistle blowing to make it apply without fear or favour,” Dr Gobotswang.
Not only is BCP VP lamenting, but Alliance for Progressive (AP) through its Secretary General Dr. Phenyo Butale agrees that the citizenry is unhappy and we might be headed for a crisis.

“Batswana are spectators in their own country in the economic activity, young minds with creative, brilliant and innovative ideas get so frustrated when all paths are closed and hit walls to government offices and parastatals and there are no opportunities for the young people and for Batswana. People move around with hopelessness and this mark economic which has huge disparity with the poor getting poorer and the citizen gets-muscled out of the economy,” said Dr Butale.

“With all these, there is no how the citizen can be happy as the locals should be empowered. Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) law should be committed and sectors that are job creating should be given to the locals with responsibility to create jobs and export services and goods like the creative and manufacturing. There should be transformation of our system from Patronage and favouritism and nepotism to meritocracy, a system that can serve and a system with less economic disparity.”

Again there is a concern from the labour movement of Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU). “Salaries are depressing, most of the working class earn less than P5000 and generally Batswana are the working poor they survive by hand to mouth. Our democracy also should be looked as to whether our 2019 expectations have been met, certainly no and we agree as a union that Batswana are not happy,” said BFTU Secretary General, Thusang Butale.

“We should have a National Social Dialogue Structure, civil society council of churches and government where we can talk as a country. Governance issues should also be taken seriously for example if we have IEC stakeholder’s report and there are gaps that needs to be closed then we should and not throw away and act. Things like GBV should be swiftly dealt with to make the nation happy.”

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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