‘Hollow’, ‘lack of highlight’, ‘business as usual’, were some of the phrases used by leaders of opposition to describe President Ian Khama’s State of the Nation address this week.
“The speech lacks a highlight. As a leader, you need to be able to rally the country for some form of vision and Batswana should be asking themselves what it is that will deliver Botswana into the league of┬áleading countries like Mauritius, Singapore and Dubai. It’s business as usual. The President talks about the threat of a second recession but does not spell out plans to cushion the country against that. At least there was concession of the education crisis,” said leader of the Botswana Congress Party, Dumelang Saleshando, in his immediate reaction to the President’s address.
Saleshando said he was happy that government is in the process of drafting Whistle Blowing Legislation to protect individuals who, in the public interest, disclose information that relates to corrupt and illegal activities as announced by Khama.
“We can only hope the government will come up with a law that meets international best practice,” Saleshando said. He regretted that Khama failed to use his address as a┬áproper ground for an apology for referring to another African national as a mokwerekwere.
“He missed the golden opportunity to say it was ill advised of him to use the word,” Saleshando said.
“In terms of the aesthetic organisation of the speech there was a better sense of organisation this time. The speech was less tense in terms of presentation but very long. So many things were over expressed, bringing in little details. Looking at the previous speech and this one, the index of difference is so low. There is a fallacy of appealing to significance by stating figures from 2008. The speech should say statistically from the last speech what is the index of job creation. How many jobs have been created and how many lost,” said leader of the Botswana Movement for Democracy Gomolemo Motswaledi.
Motswaledi shared the sentiments raised by his opposition colleagues.
“There is insincerity, or shall we say hypocrisy, in that you don’t want alcohol but the┬áalcohol levy┬ádelivers what is at the core of development,” said Motswaledi. He wondered what measures the government was going to take against fraudulence on government projects.
“The President’s speech was hollow. It said pretty much what he has said before. It doesn’t reinvigorate this nation. It contains repetition of irrelevant detail.┬á There is a vigorous campaign by the President and his government against alcohol but the alcohol levy sustains government development programmes. The BDP government has run out of ideas,” said the Botswana National front leader, Duma Boko.
Saleshando said Khama has made subtle commitment to normalise strained relations between the government and public sector unions.
“The government has been vindictive since the strike action by public servants. What the President is saying is completely different judging by the many cases before the courts between the unions and government,” said Saleshando. He also regretted that Khama was silent on the Constitutional Review despite the fact that his government keeps on bringing bills in a piece meal fashion to amend some parts of the constitution.
For his part, MELS leader Themba Joina said he was disappointed that Khama failed to talk about electoral reforms.
“There seems to be no commitment to liberalise the electoral system. It is high time the government realised that electoral systems deliver governments in a fair and peaceful manner. He bemoaned that government has not announced concrete plans to arrest the situation of unemployment.
“There is lack of policy focus. The government does not know whether to create employment through the private sector or government intervention. There is simply no clear cut strategy on creating permanent employment,” said Joina.