Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Is Botswana’s inequality rising or coming down?

Across the world countries are busy mapping up a future without coronavirus.

Everybody is eager to leave the devastation behind and make the restrictions history.

It looks like for now the only path to normality is through a vaccine.

We know for sure that countries like Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States are now ahead in their vaccination efforts. Great proportions of adults in these countries are already vaccinated. Clearly there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The arrival this week of a vaccine in Botswana should be looked against the fact that the country, like rest of the world needs to emerge from the current chaotic existence that is costly in livelihood as it in lives.

As we look to the future, we also need to look around ourselves.

There is poverty everywhere.

Covid-19 has wrought a world of inequality that will take concrete steps for it to be reversed even to just pre-pandemic levels which were bad but have since grown out of control.

As Botswana devises ways to grow out of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to carry more people than was ever the case before the pandemic.

We have always maintained that the long-term stability of Botswana depended on sharing the economic spoils evenly.

We have also maintained that leaving out and leaving behind so many people, especially the young was risk and counterproductive.

As it is, the pandemic has accelerated to unsustainable levels the pre-pandemic mix of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The mix has become a powder keg. And where in the past it was easy or convenient to ignore the dangers, now that will no longer be possible for they are so discernible as to be a security risk.

As we emerge with the world from the devastation we need to make Botswana a better place for most of the citizens.

Poverty by its nature strips people of their dignity. It takes away from them any hope. And it makes them lose self-esteem.

Once people arrive at a conclusion that there is no hope in their lives and that they have now reached a cul-de-sac there is little incentive for them to continue obeying rules.

Botswana is not unique in this regard.

But for Botswana the situation is comparable to the worst in the world.

We need to work twice harder to pull a majority of Batswana from the twin axis of poverty and unemployment.

Indigenous Batswana look with envy and utter helplessness as the economy falls deeper and one dare say irretrievably beyond their grasp.

As a result of the pandemic many people have spilled into poverty especially as a consequence of losing their jobs.

It is likely that as the pandemic becomes part of our history, Botswana will look at that history as yet another missed opportunity.

We can avoid that by putting our people on a pedestal to emerge from poverty.

The informal sector which provided livelihoods and sustenance mainly to women has been routed.

A way has to be found to help these people claw back and reclaim their lost lives.

Admittedly some efforts are ongoing, but we need more stimulus push.


Read this week's paper