Saturday, September 25, 2021

A nation of delays…..

This week parliament approved a proposal by the government to have the implementation of the National Development Plan 11 delayed by atleast a year. This reminded us of a recent delay of flights by the national airline, Air Botswana which left some businessmen stranded in Maun, Francistown and Gaborone. Another delay that came to head was that of the completion of the refurbishment of the national stadium ÔÇô This particular delay took almost 5years. Listing delay in completion of other huge projects such as Morupule B power station, Shakawe Senior School, Francistown stadium would be equal to playing a very boring song on a repeat mode. Who would forget about the delay in appointment of Chief Executives of key parastatals such as BITC, BAMB and BDC that happened in the past?

Until of late foreign direct investors have been experiencing delays to start up business in our country due to government red tape and bureaucratic tendencies. We are not even sure whether those have been stripped-off totally.

Recently over fifty thousand citizens flocked Kgatleng Land boards in search of land. We can assure those who applied for the ‘waiting list’ will surely experience some prolonged delays before they are allocated plots. The Kgatleng land stampede and other cases are a clear indication that the poor implementation quagmire and subsequent ‘delays’ has imposed chronic service delivery deficits in key areas such as lands and housing, energy supply and various infrastructural developments resulting in undesirable consequences for the citizenry of this country.

On Thursday, Minister responsible for Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo told parliament that the extension of NDP 15 has been necessitated by ‘delay’ in the kick start of preparations of the ‘Vision Beyond 2016′, a new national vision that the government wants to align to NDP 11. This delay is a clear indication that poor policy or project implementation has become a permanent feature of our development landscape.

Twenty three (23) years ago, the then President of this republic Sir Ketumile Masire in an address to Parliament indicated that “there is a growing gap between the establishment of policy and its implementation. He further noted that “the rapid growth in the formulation of policies have not been matched by the pace of implementation”.

Roughly two years after taking power, the current President, Ian Khama shared similar sentiments in his State of the Nation Address. The situation has not improved as witnessed by further delays throughout NDP 10 – atleast two-third of large infrastructure were delayed resulting in cost overruns that we all wish to be updated about. Ironically, the current President was appointed commander in chief of implementation of government projects some fourteen years ago and his dismal failure in this portfolio remains a closely guarded state secret.

But as opposition Members of Parliament such Bagalatia Arone and Ndaba Gaolatlhe made submissions on the motion of whether to extend NDP 10 or not one could not help but admit that, over the years, the full implications of poor policy and project implementation in Botswana have not been adequately canvassed. Like some of the legislatures rightfully pointed out, this poor implementation which results in ‘delays’ has no doubt distorted our macroeconomic situation. This is so despite the fact that our economy survived the worst 2008/09 global recession. The executive arm of government ought to be reminded that the loss of such huge amounts of money, particularly to foreign companies is unacceptable as it has deprived this country and its people the development dividend that they deserved. Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mmakgodi Pius Mokgware can testify to that.

The #Bottom-line though is that as our country experiences another delay in the form of NDP10 completion, effective implementation of projects, particularly job creating projects should occupy centre stage. We can do better.

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