Botswana needs to acknowledge that when it comes to policy coordination standards have generally dropped. And something needs to be done with it really quick.
It needs not be like this because the National Strategy Office was really established to perform coordination and indeed formulation of the strategy.
This means that when it comes to importance that office is up there. Yet for some unexplained reasons the office has been downgraded inside government. Instead of attracting the best brains the office is now a dumping site for officials no longer wanted in the top echelons of government.
We need to extend the reset to the NSO. The office should be the lead agent of National Development Policy. The office should be the lead agent of NDP implementation. And the office should be lead agent when it comes to NDP monitoring and indeed evaluation.
In countries where national agenda and strategy are taken seriously the equivalent of NSO is taken so seriously that it is led by a senior cabinet level member comparable to that of finance.
NDPs used to be sacrosanct in Botswana.
That is because NDPs were a bulwark against political whims. Today national agendas are whimsical because they exist only in the minds and heads of political leaders.
Thus they change every day depending on the feelings of the leader on a particular day.
NDPs are written down so that they are predictable.
They are approved by parliament so that they are shielded from outside meddling.
The seal of approval by parliament make NDPs equivalent to a law.
This means NDPs are indeed sacrosanct.
That should be restored chiefly because it is the only way to get rid of the ongoing haphazard and directionless policymaking in government.
NSO should be accorded the power to call the shots on matters of national agenda.
One of the best and surest ways is to staff NSO with the best brains in the country on matters of policy economics and other technical areas like finance and development.
NSO itself become a template of what the country’s aspirations and ambitions are.
The office should be staffed with people of depth, character and integrity aspired by the nation.
That will make it easier for the nation to lead the nation on where it wants to go.
We should as a country look at other countries like India where a similar office exists.
We should look at the responsibilities given to the office.
We should look at the respect and indeed power and influence the office commands.
There was a time in our history when NDPs could not be changed or tampered with without the authority of parliament. That era is gone.
We are no living in an era where cabinet at the behest of the president can literally decide the fate of the NDP. That is reprehensible.
Parliament should be the sole arbiter of the national agenda.
Its decision should be guided by such events like economic projections.
And a well staffed NSO should be custodian of all processes surrounding the national agenda.
That way the nation gets cushioned away from the ever changing aggrandizement of politicians.