A series of symposia that invoke a signpost in President Ian Khama’s roadmap will naturally raise eyebrows but the organiser, Dave Bagwasi, says that he has absolutely no intention of currying favour with executive power. “We want to support what we see as noble effort to improve productivity. This is my country and I want the best for it. I want it to have a good reputation internationally because its workforce delivers,” says Bagwasi who through his company, HR Group, is organising symposia themed “Private, Public, Parastatal, and Civil Society Organizations Partnerships in support of the 5th D” in three locations. The fifth D is delivery and the others are discipline, development, dignity and democracy. Together they constitute Khama’s roadmap which (excluding delivery) he revealed on April 1, 2008 when he became president.
Bagwasi says that the fifth D has never been substantively and formally defined D and that the symposia will provide opportunity to close that information gap. He adds that they would also provide a platform that may not exist within the workplace. For some 20 years now, Botswana has been experimenting with an alphabet soup of productivity intervention schemes but, as one University of Botswana study shows, the country has not experienced any fundamental change in labour productivity. “The symposia would be an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of those schemes. It is likely that people work in environments where they can’t openly express their views about these schemes and we hope that with these symposia they would be able to say what they truly think,” Bagwasi says.
Service delivery can be a literally explosive issue and in one respect, the symposia represent effort to avert such eventuality. In South Africa, poor service delivery has resulted in violent protests as citizens took to the streets to show displeasure at the way local authorities were doing business. There is no indication at this point that Botswana has reached a point where public anger about service delivery can spill out onto the streets but Bagwasi says that there is need to be pro-active and contain the situation before citizens reach their tolerance level. He also points out that poor service delivery breeds corruption. “If service is not good enough, members of the public begin to pay bribes to expedite it and when that happens, employees have an incentive to make service delivery even poorer so that they get more money.
Given how big our government is, you can imagine the extent of the problem,” Bagwasi says. The series starts on June 12 in Gaborone with a two-day symposium at the Phakalane Estate Hotel and Resort. Similar events will follow in Francistown (June 16 and 17) and Maun (June 19 and 20). Participants at each symposium will discuss the question of whether all institutions, government included, are doing enough to promote service delivery and position the country as a global investment destination.