Sunday, September 27, 2020

Citizen empowerment motion receives universal support

The motion presented by Member of Parliament for Shoshong, Duke Lefhoko, calling for the establishment of a government policy on citizen empowerment has won universal support from members across the political divide.
The motion calls for such a policy to be established urgently.

Supporting the motion, Member of Parliament for Mmadinare, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, said with no bread on the table, political independence is meaningless.

Kedikilwe warned that unless there is a deliberate policy on citizen economic empowerment, Batswana will soon be asking what is in it for them in their political independence.

Citing examples, Kedikilwe said calls for citizen economic empowerment are not new.

He said as early as 1982/3 Peter Mmusi chaired a presidential economic commission which recommended that citizens be more involved in the mainstream economic activities of their country.
Subsequent Commissions, like the Kedikilwe Commission, also pointed to that direction.

Kedikilwe also quoted the current president, Festus Mogae, in the late 1990s when he said Batswana should not continue as bemused spectators in the economic affairs of their country.

He said charges of xenophobia miss the point, adding that if nothing is done to empower Batswana, it would be driving the country into trouble.

Kedikilwe suggested that there be created a division or unit in the Office of the President that would be tasked with ?coordinating, implementing and enforcing? citizen economic empowerment.
He said even non citizens doing business in Botswana should support citizen economic empowerment out of ?enlightened self interest.?

He said non citizens had to create an accommodative environment allowing for citizen empowerment, as a way of guarding their own self interests.

?The movement of citizen empowerment is gaining momentum, and if we lose control, we will be in trouble. Doing nothing would be tantamount to playing marbles when Rome is on fire,? warmed Kedikilwe, who is also the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water resources.

He observed that everybody is agreed of the need for citizen economic empowerment, but what is left now is how to go about achieving it.

The Minister of Trade, Neo Moroka, also supported the motion as did Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Kavis Kario.

Kario said there is a lot of will and determination among Batswana, including at professional level, to meaningfully participate in the affairs of their country.

Presenting the motion last week, Lefhoko had pointed out that countries like Namibia and South Africa that only achieved political independence recently have since surpassed Botswana on the front of economic empowerment of their citizens.
Member of Parliament for Palapye, Boyce Sebetela, said there is a culture of obsession with expatriates and non citizens in Botswana.

He gave the example of the construction of the Dibete-Mahalapye road as one example.
He said the cost overruns are escalating everyday but no action is taken because the contractor is a foreigner.

?If it was a citizen involved, the tender would have long been withdrawn,? said Sebetela.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.