The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is not impressed with President Ian Khama’s leadership since he assumed office five years ago.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, BCP President, Dumelang Saleshando said since Khama assumed office in 2008 the country has been in a sad state.
“For the first time after independence, the younger generation is getting a taste of how life must have been during the colonial era and in the early days of our independence. Basic supply of water is not guaranteed and many have to travel long distances to get a bath, notwithstanding the fact that the country has invested huge amounts in building dams,” said Saleshando.
In his view, power supply is also not assured, even though the country has paid an 11-billion-pula invoice to put up a power supply station.
“We continue to cross our fingers that our neighbours will come to our rescue with the supply of both water and electricity,” he said.
Touching on a topical issue, Saleshando noted that corruption is on the increase and those accused of corruption no longer pay any price for attracting the attention of the government investigative bodies.
“Unlike in the past, it is becoming fashionable to simultaneously use the titles Accused Number 1 and Honourable Minister of government. There is no shame in being read out a charge sheet of how one has looted the public coffers. Major parastatals, such as Botswana Development Corporation and Botswana Meat Commission, are wrought with evidence of corruption and no one is responsible for the mess,” said Saleshando.
He said President Khama has not seen the need to come up with the Whistle Blowing Legislation that he promised in the 2011 state of the nation address to try and combat corruption, adding that calls for a disclosure of assets by the national leadership continue to be ignored by the Khama government.
“Over the 5 years, the quality of our education has plummeted. Throughout the 5 years, the quality of the results of public schools has deteriorated. The country has recorded the worst ever results for primary, junior secondary and senior secondary level. Even though the Minister of Education tried to suggest that the form 5 results released this year show some improvement, the reality is that not a single senior secondary school has recorded a pass rate of over 50 percent,” said Saleshando.
He expressed concern that the dream of an educated and informed nation by the year 2016 is clearly not attainable under the current political leadership.
Saleshando stated that the health system has not been spared from the free fall.
“Most health facilities operate without the optimal number of trained medical personnel while the government has decided to dismiss a number of nurses and doctors following the industrial action of 2011. A number of health facilities are in a state of disrepair and operate with inadequate transport since the decision to centralise health services under the Ministry of Health,’ said Saleshando.
He accused President Khama of adopting a highly confrontational attitude in dealing with the labour movement and added that he has generally disregarded the need for dialogue in favour of ultimatums to the union leadership.
On the judiciary, Saleshando said public confidence in the judiciary, particularly the court of appeal, is at its lowest.
“The process of appointing judges to both the high court and the court of appeal is not insulated against undue political influence as it is dominated by appointees of the President. The court of appeal has become the defender of the Presidential interests,” he said.
Saleshando also accused Khama of militarising the public service.
“The President associates from the military have been deployed to various sections of the public service to tighten the military grip over public institutions. The culture of directives has replaced the time tested consultative process. The Presidents word has become the law in terms of public expenditure as millions of public funds are diverted to the Presidential pet projects,” said the BCP leader.
Funds earmarked for disaster, Saleshando said, have found their way into the coffers of the Intelligence Services.
“Expenditure for military and intelligence services has been prioritised over all other national priorities. A comparative analysis shows that under the NDP 10, the Directorate of Intelligence Services has already spent over 97 percent of their provision of the development budget while the Botswana Police is at 11 percent as most projects have been suspended due to the unfavourable financial climate,” said Saleshando
On the international scene, Saleshando said that President Khama has chosen to absent himself and ignore the responsibilities that come with the office he holds.
“He has shunned important meetings of regional, continental and international meetings. He has not attended a single summit of the African Union and has also stayed away from the United Nations meetings,” said Saleshando.