Wednesday, June 7, 2023

BNF responds to Nkate’s appointment as BEDIA new CEO

Towards the end of last year, it was announced that the powers that be have made a decision to appoint a well known ruling party activist as the head of BEDIA.

The appointment of Mr Jacob Nkate as BEDIA CEO constitutes a devastating blow to corporate governance.  We have made our sentiments clear with regard to the appointment through our party leader, Cde Otsweletse Moupo, in a recent interview with a local weekly. Our position is that this appointment confirms our view that BDP survives on patronage. By this move the BDP behaved disgracefully.  

As the main opposition whose task is to hold the government to account and to instil a sense of good governance to the ruling party, we have serious reservations with this appointment as it is not based on merit.

BEDIA has an immense mandate of diversifying the economy from reliance on mining particularly diamonds by promoting and assisting in the establishment of export centred enterprises.┬áBEDIA’s mandate makes it an organisation of national importance and appointments, especially to strategic positions like CEO, should be done in a manner that is free from political opportunism and patronage.

We do not doubt Jacob Nkate’s competence but by all standards he’s not the best person for the job and this is one of the worst appointments made in 2009.

It is not justifiable as it is partisan.

It is embarrassing to see the level to which the ruling party can go to save one of their own from forming part of the statistics of the unemployed.

Appointments to influential positions in parastatals like BEDIA in functional democracies, the one promised by a BNF government, which will strive for accountability and cherish good governance, are made by an Independent Board after a robust recruitment process. This is meant to guard against appointments which threaten the dignity and public acceptance of the integrity of public institutions. It is clear that in appointing the CEO, the interest of the nation and BEDIA’s mandate were compromised for the narrow and self-centred interests of the BDP.

This is unacceptable and a classic example of short-sighted governance and disregard for credible appointment processes.

Nkate was once a minister of Trade and Industry which is a custodian of BEDIA. It would be interesting to see what he will achieve as a CEO which he failed to influence as a minister. In a democracy, people and their voices count.

Unfortunately, our democratic set-up is in such a way that everything revolves around a few ruling elite so the wider public never has an option but to accept a partisan appointment such as this one. It appears the best we can do is get up and dust ourselves with the hope that common sense, patriotism and respect for good governance will prevail in subsequent appointments. But this will remain a pipe dream as long as the BDP is in power.

It is worth noting that BEDIA as an institution seems to have its own performance problems, which will now be compounded by this new appointment.

BEDIA has been in existence for over 10yrs now. A simple back of the note book calculation (operation costs and benefit that accrued from such costs) will reveal that there is a significant imbalance on cost-to-benefit on BEDIA’s attempts to fulfil its mandate over the period it has been in existence.

This is due to BEDIA’s failure to inspire investors with a well thought out courtship and effective, focused strategies. It is our view that an organisation with a huge task like BEDIA should pride itself with an aggressive & clear strategy to make a competitive business case to target investors. To its credit, BEDIA’s website is packed with a lot of general information. Unfortunately one size fits all information has undermined BEDIA’s diligent achievement of its mandate. The BNF government promises a phase lift of BEDIA with emphasis on performance targets , monitoring and effective objectives to ensure that there is a good return on investment.

┬áIt is worth noting that Botswana is competing with other countries in trying to get investors into its boarders. So the importance of a unique and appealing business selling point can never be sufficiently stressed. Times have changed and investors need more than a tired over-emphasis on Botswana being a “democratic and peaceful country”. After all, this is just a point of view.

BEDIA’s investment promotion efforts should be pioneered by specific “marketing┬ástrategy”, extending beyond information contained on BEDIA’s website that can sell investment opportunities to target investors and put the country ahead of others as an ideal place to invest. Botswana, as a country, should be treated like a product to be sold to the international community.

In promoting investment opportunities in Botswana to potential investors, it is important to accommodate citizens by categorically mentioning citizen economic empowerment and the significance of citizen participation. 

For a product to appeal to the market, its competitive advantages should be well spelt out in line with modern trends. There’s need for BEDIA to pre-empt decision factors (i.e. monetary policy, financial service market, taxation etc) that investors take into account in deciding on an investment destination.┬á This information needs to be incorporated into the strategy.

Central to any marketing strategy is effective objectives. The BNF led government will as a matter of urgency and by virtue of it being a custodian of national resources ensure that every investment promotion effort of BEDIA is guided by effective and clear objectives. Objectives mean nothing if they are not specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

An objective such as “we want investors to come and invest in Botswana ” is flawed and ineffective. An effective object should for example read, “We want reputable Investors specialising in manufacturing of jewellery to set up sustainable business in Mochudi by October 2010.”

This objective is effective because there is a clear plan of action. Once effective objectives have been set, it is important to determine Key Performance Indicators (KPI) which dictates what has to be done to achieve the objective.

An example of a KPI to the above objective would be for BEDIA to lialise with Botswana Missions & Embassies who will identify credible Jewellery manufacturing firms and pass the information to BEDIA to produce a targeted marketing strategy.

In creating a marketing┬ástrategy it is vital to incorporate information on human and natural resources and infrastructure. It is important that BEDIA’s attempts to bring investors be supported by factual and accurate information on means of production.

It is not enough for instance to say Botswana has educated labour force. This is vague and ambiguous. How can this be achieved? Government departments like Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) or a new unit in the Ministry of Education should be mandated to create a database of human resources in Botswana.

This should contain up to date information of qualifications and experience of citizens. Ministry of Lands should have a responsibility to keep accurate information on land, services available in that land, zoning of that land and whether or not this land can be rezoned. Parastatals like BTC and BTA should provide information on telecommunication and information security.

Ministry of Works & Transport should provide information on transport links. Once information required to meet a set objective has been obtained, BEDIA should then incorporate this information in its marketing strategy.

It is also important to incorporate information on schools, social services including health & recreational facilities.

Once objectives and information have been incorporated into the strategy, BEDIA should lialise with Botswana Missions & Embassies abroad who should have an agency status to identify investors that will be targeted by the marketing strategy. The identification of these investors will be guided by set objectives.

One important thing about performance management is progress monitoring. It is important to have a tool such as BEDIA Prospects Tracker which will be an internal database which records information on potential & prospective investors. This will enable BEDIA to identify those prospects which have the greatest chances of success and prioritise on those in terms of follow up and marketing strategies.

This tool will serve a number of other purposes over and above providing information on current prospects. Amongst a number of other secondary roles the BEDIA Prospect Tracker will act as a performance monitor to measure performance against set targets and objectives.

There is no doubt that BEDIA is an enterprise of national importance which can play a significant role in catalysing economic diversification provided  there is performance monitoring system based on effective and clear objectives. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case hence the low investment promotion conversion rate and an imbalance of cost to benefit. 

BEDIA’s efficiency is dependent on clear objectives and an effective performance management┬á system. Each investment promotion should be treated individually with its own set of objectives. For as long as there is a default investment promotion strategy,┬áinvestment efforts conversion rate will be low. Politically motivated appointments to this body will not assist but worsen the situation.
Thanking you
Moeti Mohwasa
BNF Information and Publicity Secretary


Read this week's paper