This past Monday, as we all might be aware, the President Ian Khama laid down his final fiscal cards on the table through the State of the Nation Address (SONA). As expected, all the members of Parliament, including Khama’s cabinet will as of last week continue to debate his speech, in his absence until around mid December.
On Wednesday, Biggie Butale, a junior minister at Trade and Investment ministry stood up to make his submissions regarding Khama’s speech. Amongst others things Butale spoke at length about the need to import labour immigrants, about 2 million he suggest.
At face value, one could jump to it and applaud this Trade and Investment junior minister for a well thought of idea. On a thorough thought, Butale’s thinking brings so many questions that perhaps maybe only he could answer. First of all, one tends to ask themselves if this could be Butale’s solution to the socio-economic problems presently facing our people. The answer to this one is not as straight forward, but in his submission, Butale thinks it would be wise for us as a nation to import two million people into our shore when there are signals that our service provision to the mere 2.6 million natives is below par. By the way the Trade and Investment ministry is a key division of government when it comes to wealth creation for the people of this country.
In his ideological embracement of importation of “skilled labour”, Butale thinks he has found the much needed solution to Botswana’s triple headache of high unemployment rate, unequal distribution of wealth and high level of poverty amongst the natives. The question then becomes whether we should go with this kind of thinking that Butale has? The answer is a big NO. Butale’s thinking is not imaginative enough and is a true reflection of a “political imagination and economic vision” failure of the current cabinet. The legacy of the current cabinet can be summarised in two words, incompetent and impotent. If that is not the case, what else can explain the 17.6 percent unemployment rate, massive job losses, cash stripped State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), frustrated public service and lack of laws that speaks to economic empowerment of the natives? Why big infrastructures such as Marina Hospital are dilapidated as they are?
From where we stand, all these are a result of the failure to act in a collective and co-ordinated manner by the current executive arm of the government in the face of a global political, economic and financial crisis. Even the recent contradiction of fiscal updates by the President and finance minister tells you what really is going on at government enclave.
Perhaps, that is why going forward, we need executive leaders who can rise above the local to communicate a grand vision, inspire all of us, while at the same time energising common action.
We need executive leaders who could help our country to do edgework instead of remaining comfortable like we were in olden days of diamond is forever. Our country, with the help of imaginative leaders can be better at innovating and recovering from inevitable mistakes. All this will make us less vulnerable to the random upheavals that the global economy inflicts every now and then.
Going forward, we could use an imaginative cabinet as greater imagination allows us to see that there are benefits to success and adversity, to boom and bust alike. An imaginative cabinet will be able to identify opportunities that are there to create wealth for the people of this country even if BCL mine in Selibe Phikwe shuts or Foot and Mouth disease makes its way back in Ngamiland.
In short, an imaginative cabinet must be able to ensure to ensure that that the nation is prepared for the inevitable storm and the interesting opportunities that spill from the highs and lows of the economic swells and to benefit from their diverse treasures.
It is tempting to conclude that, over the past decade things have got worse, not better, precisely because courageous, skilful and imaginative leaders have been in short supply at the government enclave.
The #Bottomline therefore becomes that without strong, imaginative and inspiring leadership, our people will continue eating crumb of bread whilst foreigners repatriate all the money they sucked from us.