Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Citizen economic empowerment ÔÇô its time to replace rhetoric with action

A few years ago when he was outside cabinet, PHK Kedikilwe had adopted it as his mantra calls on government bring citizens into the mainstream of their economy.

Rightly, he said Botswana Government should never apologise for favouring citizens over non-citizens when it came to procurement of public contracts.

In a detailed presentation in parliament which he also took to BOCCIM where he was a guest speaker, Kedikilwe reminded all of us that the world over, citizens are favoured over non-citizens.

He said it would be foolhardy to claim that just because government wanted good things for citizens then such a government was being xenophobic.

He said Botswana was probably the only country in the world which was half-hearted, apologetic some would even say ashamed of favouring citizens.

Today Kedikilwe is back in cabinet.

He is not your ordinary minister.

Substantively he holds the position of Minister of Minerals. In addition to that he has recently been appointed Acting Vice President.

As a matter of fact this means that over night Kedikilwe now has 24 hour access to both the State House and the Office of the President ÔÇô though admittedly not in exactly the fashion that he would have preferred.

It is public knowledge that if things turned his way his would be the man in charge, calling the shots.

But that is neither here nor there.

The fact of the matter is that he now finds himself in a position of immense power and influence.
Those of us who keenly followed what Kedikilwe said while he was a backbencher look up to him as the second most powerful man in the country to now follow up his words with action.

As a reminder, if there is any need for reminding at all, it was Kedikilwe who first came up with a suggestion in parliament that citizen economic empowerment should be legislated.

Using his immense intellectual skills skill he argued that citizen economic empowerment was too important to be left to the mercy and whims of procuring civil servants.

He suggested an Act of parliament which will detail just how the huge government budgets would be divided between and among citizen owned companies.

Many Batswana were not only awe struck but also fascinated by the new ground their hero was breaking.

In return Kedikilwe earned himself respect and support from across the political divide.
It was that kind of support and goodwill which ensured that eve as his political adversaries inside the BDP wanted to finish him off, for they were worried about his ambitions an intentions he effectively became invincible.

Politically speaking he just refused to die.

It is a matter of tragedy that many years later citizen businesses are still not any better off than hey were when their hero used to wax lyrical about how dreamed of a day when they would be preferred over those companies that are non citizen owned.

We single out Kedikilwe, not out of any malice but because there is no better example than him how our leaders tend to go quiet on issues they used to hold dear once hey are nicely ensconced in office and in power.

As a country we still have a long way to go before we can fully transfer the economy of hands into citizens.

By calling for citizen economic empowerment we are not saying foreigners should be chased away.
All we are saying is that continued exclusion of citizens is unsustainable.

If not checked it can easily become a national security risk especially if citizens become envious of expatriates who swim in Jacuzzis of wealth while they are struggling to make ends meet.
Once again we call on government to expedite the formulation of a piece of law that makes citizen economic empowerment mandatory.

Like Kedikilwe used to say during his days in the wilderness, it is wishful thinking to rely on the whims and caprice of civil servants to award contract to citizen companies when there is no law that makes it mandatory.

Experience has shown that such a blind faith of the bureaucrats does not work.
We believe it is now time to allow rhetoric with action.

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