Monday, May 18, 2009

Response to article in the Sunday Standard (10/5/09): "Khama's Government not ruining Botswana"

source: Republic of Botswana (17/5/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 14 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

C2) 15/5/09: Response to article in the Sunday Standard (10/5/09):
"Khama's Government not ruining Botswana"

His Excellency the President Seretse Khama Ian Khama's popularity standing according to the Afrobarometer report is at an all time high of 88% by international standards. This is by no default but linked closely to the vision that he set out for Botswana based on the 4 Ds: Democracy, Development, Discipline and Dignity. Writing in the Sunday Standard, in an article entitled 'Khama's Government ruining Botswana', Kenneth Dipholo writes: "These are tough times which demand that Botswana be governed by men and women with the ability to keep it afloat and protect it, a leadership that has a disposition for unlearning in order to learn and change or adapt to changing circumstances". Kenneth Dipholo could not have said it better as Khama's BDP Government is providing exactly same - keeping the country afloat against a backdrop of global challenges as a result of the economic downturn.

In his inaugural speech, President Khama pointed out as follows: "We have a clear vision of what we want Botswana's future to be. The successful implementation of our economic diversification policies and all this implies, will require focussed and a single minded Pursuit of our goals and objectives. Batswana have every right to reflect with pride on four decades of independence, stability and major economic and social development. But we cannot bask in past glory forever as has been the tendency. We need to think of the coming decades and about the prosperity and welfare of future generations. Botswana has become a middle income country by prudently managing and investing the proceeds from her natural resources. This in turn, has provided a stable and fulfilling environment for its citizens and business. Today, the country faces challenges that require further responses and initiatives". It therefore becomes clear from the above, that the President and his government then in April 2008, before the global downturn, had "a disposition for learning in order to change or adapt to changing circumstances".

In presenting the 2009 Budget Speech, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Honourable Baledzi Gaolathe noted as follows: "The budget proposals that I will present shortly mark the beginning of the tenth National Development Plan, or NDP 10. Unlike the previous Plans, NDP 10 will cover a period of seven years, from April 2009 through March 2016. Parliamentary discussion of the draft Plan has been delayed to take into account the unfolding global financial crisis and consequent economic slowdown. The debate will now take place in July this year". These are but some of the measures undertaken by President Khama's government to ensure that the country keeps afloat, in line with Kenneth Dipholo's assertion. The decision to delay Parliamentary discussion on NDP is meant to give government adequate time to factor in the effects of the global financial crisis and thereafter make informed decisions.

It cannot be overemphasised that the global financial crisis continues to affect our country, mainly through lower mineral exports, which results in the reduction of Government revenues. In light of the foregoing, it becomes imperative that the country finds innovative ways of addressing the country's development needs within the limited expected revenues. There is therefore need for all, the government and the nation to exercise even more financial restraint and discipline to smooth the adjustment process necessitated by the decline in mineral revenues. As Minister Gaolathe points out, "It is for this reason that a number of belt-tightening measures will be adopted for the 2009/2010 financial year". These measures are a clear indication that government is working at keeping the country afloat.

As a long term measure to diversify the economy, government has come up with 'Hubs' notable of which is the 'Botswana Innovative Hub' (BIH) that will promote private participation in technological research and development. 'The Innovative Hub will consist of world class facilities including state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure with high capacity international connectivity and secured power, professional business services, and business development services. The business services will allow companies to concentrate on their core business and outsource the rest. The development programmes, together with the support for Research and development and the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship, will make BIH an ideal place for business development'.

In keeping with President Khama's special emphasis on employment creation, is the Labour Intensive Public Works Programme, aimed at creating employment and providing income to low-income groups, formerly Drought Relief Programme. This was introduced on a permanent basis in July 2008. During 2007/2008 a total of 172 360 people benefited from the said programme. In 2008/2009, a total of P368.5 million has been budgeted for the programme and it is expected that a similar or larger number of people will be employed. Further, the Labour Intensive Public Works programme has played an important role in keeping the country clean, as captured by Mmegi: "The streets of Gaborone will be (sic) putting on a refreshing look of late. Roads are swept on a daily basis, and overgrown vegetation is slashed to give the city a respectable look. Even around some of the city's dirtiest environs such as Old Naledi, the look is simply eye-catching, thanks to President Ian Khama's Labour Intensive Public Service Works initiative".

Then there is ISPAAD, an initiative by which the government is trying to ensure continuous food security for the country meant to reduce food deficiency and dependency. According to information from ISPAAD, to date 266,521hectares have been measured (247,136 in the communal sub sector and 19,385 at Pandamatenga. This hectorage has been planted by 83,889 farmers (83,863 farmers in the communal sub sectors and 26 at Pandamatenga Commercial Farms) this figure indicates that more farmers benefited on ploughing and planting based on this initiative.

In conclusion, the African Economic Outlook notes that Botswana has impressive credit and investment destination ratings from international agencies such as Moody's, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, reflecting its sound economic management and stable macroeconomic environment. The ratings by renowned International Agencies should inform academics like Kenneth Dipholo to provide a true reflection of what obtains in the country. His ravings and ranting that Khama's Government is ruining Botswana lacks academic depth as it is not backed by empirical evidence.

1 comment:

forgetmenot said...

DIVERSIFICATION,DEVERSIFICATION AND AGAIN DIVERSIFICATION...

You,Batswana ,ought NOT to put all your eggys into the basket of diamond industry but START producing your own goods,instead importing from the West.

There are many countries like Botswana with limited market but they are manufacturing many goods,e.g. CYPRUS,Chech Republic,Irland(only 6 mil.),Switzerland,Sweden a.s.o