Wednesday, October 4, 2023

As you blossom we say – Forewarned is forearmed

This week’s commentary is rather a personal one from this publication – personal meaning it seeks to engage, give and get attention of Bogolo Kenewendo, the newly Specially Elected member of Parliament. 

We seek to engage and update the new Honourable Member Parliament on something that she probably knows about ÔÇô ironic? We feel the need to do so, partly because we are media … and also because we know she has been away in West Africa where she has been working for the past several months. She might have missed out some of the developments that happened in our republic while she was still serving the good people of Ghana. 

For those who might not be aware, on Thursday Kenewendo, a young thought-leader walked the hallowed halls of Parliament as Botswana’s youngest MP. Alongside Mephato Reatile, Kenewendo, aged 29, was nominated and later confirmed as a Specially Elected MP. Actually the grapevine has it that she might even make it into Cabinet when the next reshuffle “happens”. 

But while we wait for this “reshuffle”, we wish to draw the attention of Kenewendo to one or two things. We promise, it shall be just one or two things. We won’t talk about the recent liquidation of BCL and pending closure of the mine that will see over 5 000 employees losing their jobs. We will not, at least for now, not share details about the recent revelations of what transpired at Botswana Tourism Organisation or the embattled national airliner – Air Botswana. 

All those have been in the public space just like the closure of several companies in the mining sector and decision by government to increase spending on military related equipment. 

As for the unknown rate of unemployment (which we suspect is way beyond 30 percent) and recent whipping of some of the job seekers who tried to seek audience from some of your new colleagues, we leave it to those colleagues of yours to give you an insight. 

There are just a few other things that we surely don’t want to talk to you about. Things like the end of days of a decorated budget or the fact that we are still to identify at least just one sector that we are diversified in as we reel from the not-so-trusted minerals sector. 

The last thing that we would want to share with a fresh MP like you, who is also an admirable trade economist, is the uncertainty in both the domestic and global economies that are likely to leave growth, taxes and probably in the long run inflation extremely volatile. 

However, unlike the man you were sworn in with on Thursday, we have faith that you will probably usher in fresh a breeze to Parliament. All those things we mentioned are just part and parcel of the changing global village. 

As new struggles unfold, hard questions have to be asked. Be ready to field such questions from both fellow MPs and the ever brittle journalists. 

We have no doubt that alongside Dithapelo Keorapetse, and other fresh minds such as Ndaba Gaolathe you represent the generation of millennials well in the current Parliament. This is a generation that says even as democracy has come to be the only form of government widely viewed as legitimate; it has lost the trust of many citizens who no longer believe that it can deliver on their most pressing needs and preferences. 

If you doubt ask the fellow Batswana job seekers that were chased like dogs right in front of some “fat” Parliamentarians who went as far as labelling them as “out of order”. 

Indeed, while you were in Ghana (the home of Kwame Nkrumah) the ground started shifting fast and a huge storm seems to be building up on the horizon as poverty, unemployment and income inequalities continues to grapple our people. 

You are from Boteti, which borders Ngamiland District, and you should surely know what we mean when we talk about poverty. There is no need to over emphasise the need for you to work hard from day one to ensure that your own people set the right platform necessary for success in achieving both short and long term development goals of this noble nation.  

To cut the long story short, Honourable, economically, the time ahead looks bleak. But as an economist, the young people and women all over this country pin their hopes on you. They know and we also know you will bring fresh thinking to the highest decision making Assembly. 

Another reason why we celebrate your coming back home and precisely to work in Parliament is the fact that we know that most millennials would feel that they are now represented by smart people ÔÇô like we indicated above the likes of Gaolathe and Keorapetse. The kind of breed that says despite the political affiliation, you shall serve the nation. 

From where we stand, millennials that represent a large part of our population need representation that understand their agenda and have the necessary expertise to implement it. Now that you have joined politics, although you say you are not one, millennials, more especially young women, may take to politics more than they did previously. They may see the need to work even harder in their respective fields for the benefit of their communities. 

One last thing Honourable; we know that in the face of the trouble financial woes that our country is facing, there is an attempt by the powers that be to steer our economic ship through choppy waters. This volatility is hard enough to manage without the underlying socio-political divisions deepening. So be on the look-out as you start your debates in Parliament which are likely to be during the recently tabled National Development Plan 11 and the upcoming State of the Nation Address by your new master President Ian Khama. These divisions are complex, yet stark. 

That is why even Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has even themed his NDP 11 draft as “Inclusive growth for realisation of employment creation and poverty eradication”. 

Our last request to you Honourable is that since you are now even closer to the powers that be, make it one of your challenges to ensure that our leaders in Parliament come together. The #Bottomline is that we need to end and heal the divisions despite the political ideological differences. Our country is divided and things need to change for the better. We expect social democratic thinkers like you; to pay more attention to community cohesion and identity as well as economic inequality. Thank you and all the best. 


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