Over the past months there has been much debate and differing opinions about privatization and its different implications and transformation. As Botswana’s economy gets more refined, sustainable growth and employment creation have to move from the government to the private sector. This was the view offered by President Festus Mogae when he officially opened the 32nd BDP Congress held at Molepolole last week.
The President said that diversification of the economy, job creation and long running macroeconomic stability will eventually rest upon the private sector with guidance and monitoring from the government.
“It is neither sustainable nor desirable, that the government should continue to be the largest employer and investor in the economy,” he said.
Mogae said that the net effect of the process of privatization would be greater efficiency, diversity and dynamism in the economy, adding that diversification and innovativeness are the key to long term economic stability and job creation.
Botswana economic policies and approaches, he said, have always been characterized by a sense of conservatism and caution. As Batswana embark on their structural reforms, much thought and planning has been given to the strategic direction in which they want their economy to go.
“I’m particularly perturbed by allegations that we are pursuing privatization in order to recklessly sell-off national assets at discounted prices to ourselves or some entities in which we are stakeholders,” he said.
The President emphasized that these are malicious and unfounded allegations meant to besmirch the good name of the BDP and its government. He assured the nation that no law would be breached or disregarded in the process of privatizating Air Botswana.
He said his government had tried to sell Air Botswana as a going concern in accordance with the Air Botswana Transition Act in 2002 but there were no takers and for five years no-one had come up with any bright initiative.
Instead of sitting around while the airline continued to make losses and to bleed Botswana of much need resources, Mogae said his government started the ball rolling on other possible ways of privatizing Air Botswana and return it to efficiency and profitability.
The President assured the nation that any outcome of these proposals would first have to be legislated into reality by Parliament that there is, therefore, no justification for jumping the gun and stalemating the negotiations.
The President quoted Shakespeare. “There is a tide in the affairs of men that taken at its flood may lead on to fortune but, omitted, their life is bound in shallows and miseries. We must strike while the tide serves or lose our goal.”