While political survival war rages on, the hard economic challenges still awaits Masisi

10 Sep 2018

It is quite unfortunate that President Mokgweetsi Masisi unlike any other president before him has had to thwart off political enemies and fight battles from within his Botswana Democratic Party from the very moment he ascended to the throne. This may have given credibility to a possible speculation doing the rounds that his ascendance to the presidency may have been conditional. It may then appear that as soon as he ascended he recognised that he owed no one a cent for a favour and relegated all the pre-ascendance conditions to their rightful garbage bin. Indeed he owes no one a dime for his ascendance and his leadership style should be his own no one’s. Botswana’s constitution provides for one to ascend to the presidency at the retirement of the incumbent. The automatic succession provides for the vice president to take over at that stage. The internal political altercations may have derailed the president from pursuing a socio-economic transformative programme intended to uplift our wellbeing, particularly the down trodden and vulnerable members of our populace. The imagined delay is premised on my thinking that he has such a programme in mind, a thought that might be wrong, for it may possibly be business as usual for him, given that he has been a part of the machinery upon which Batswana have been pinning their hopes long before he joined the legislature.

I expressed optimism that he will be on the challenges facing the youth given the president’s understanding of the economic challenges of our time as contained in the United Nations demographic dividend (DD) report on Botswana, of which he has had a part to play either obliquely or otherwise. As recently as last week he made mention of the DD and the challenges it poses, I guess it must have been in China. However, save for talking about the DD, a relatively nice concept, the president seems to be far from convincing us that he has a formidable socio-economic upliftment programme for the nation he presides over.

There are certain immediate socio-economic challenges facing the country for which as is always expected across countries, our government needs to set the tone for itself and other stakeholders as to how we need to overcome these challenges. The president HE Masisi is expected to spearhead the onslaught on the unfortunate economic challenges of our times, not that these challenges are new in themselves. It is an expectation that he would wish to succeed where others have failed and render himself a cut above the rest. If he harbours no such ambition, then he will certainly perpetuate the social injustices that have become a part of us by design.

As put by former President and Apartheid icon, HE Nelson R Mandela, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” The poverty, unemployment and inequalities in this country needs human effort to be dealt with and president HE Masisi should rise up and understand this national priority and act and be seen to be doing so. I have all along thought that he needed time for us to pass verdicts on him. However, as we move towards his half a year reign at the helm of the country’s affairs, one would not be groundless to start assessing him on how he handles the cores of our existence. He seems to be way behind in setting the ball rolling. There might be certain challenges he needs to immediately attend to in order to solidify his presidency, courtesy of the possible unfortunate entitlement syndrome amongst some us. The president’s versatility and his leadership acumen are on a litmus test. It will be fool hardy on our part as citizens to await him fight his personal and political battles with his associates. We should thus demand delivery consistent with a president understanding the demands of leadership and challenges of his people.

Since the global financial crisis (GFC), Botswana’s economy seems to have lost its vibrancy and has been susceptible to the volatility commensurate with a narrow based economies. The failure to broaden the economic base precedes the GFC and reflects a lack of robust economic leadership on the part of government over the years. This slowdown in our economy has indeed diminished the government’s financial muscle and the pretext that there is no money by the government though true is not justifiable. It is not justifiable when espoused by the very government that should have known that by failing to diversify the economy, the financial pool will eventually as a result of multifarious factors run out. This could have been circumvented if well deliberated economic interventionary measures were implemented with a view to build a foundation for a high income economy. As it turns out the resources were often utilised for the personal gratification of the privileged few and less so for the broader nation. This crusade was institutionalised on the just ended administration and we can only hope the incumbent president will not equally preside on a further mutilation of an economic potential which has been severely dented.