Saturday, October 31, 2020

Back to the Cross roads

On the occasion of the burial of Botswana’s former President, Sir Ketumile Masire this week, an ex-cabinet minister Daniel Kwelagobe is his eulogy mentioned the need to go back to the “cross roads”. 

Kwelagobe might have been speaking in “political tones” but whatever he meant and its outcome has a great impact in the domestic economy performance and citizen economic empowerment. 

That is to say, the cross roads referred to by Kwelagobe, in our interpretation, could be the area where we could, as a nation find our much needed financial independence. The cross roads could be where we could finally realise the need to turn our citizen empowerment policy into a law. At  the cross road we could, perhaps realise, as a nation that land is a primary factor of production, and that if we speed up the process of allocating land, both residential and commercial to our people, we are in a way speeding up their financial independence. 

In short, what Kwelagobe was suggesting, without necessarily saying it, was that for continuos economic growth and fast pace of development, Botswana urgently needs to re-work on certain key areas like infrastructure, healthcare and education system. The current labour mismatch where most of our graduates are not only unemployed but also unemployable is a worrying trend that should send us back to the cross roads. The sale of public assets to a selected few and privileged individuals will certainly results in growth of the already high gap of income inequality. If we are to reverse the current scenario of high income inequality we might as well head back to the cross roads and find better ways of sharing the national cake. 

By “Cross Roads” Kwelagobe is probably referring to the times when one could walk into public health facility like Marina Hospital and be rest assured that they will get basic health care like access to clean bedding. 

It is at the cross roads where we would, as a nation easily prioritise basic necessities over luxurious expenditure such as fighter jets. After all, economic boom cannot be built on shaky foundation of a creaky infrastructure; it needs to be built on the rock solid foundation of sound physical and social infrastructure. Everything from power production to roads, highways, airports to healthcare and education system needs to be improved upon, in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms.

There is no doubt that Botswana’s unharnessed potential has held promise for investors and multinational companies around the world. Some have come and set up here, whilst others are still held back by inadequate physical infrastructure and delay in decision making. 

The truth of the natter is that, since the 2008 global financial downturn, Batswana have been facing basic social and economic issues such as high unemployment, lack of land as well as poor health care. The #Bottomline is that since 2008, the biggest failure of Botswana could be summed as “its inability to meet basic human needs”, partly due to the scale of the challenges in health care and education system and to a larger extend the big slip-up of thinking that state riches are that of all citizens. It has since however hit us that although animals are equal; others are more equal than others. 

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Choppies shareholders split over financials

Botswana’s biggest grocer Choppies Enterprises is slowly clawing its way up, but shareholders remain divided while the company founders have increased their...