Government has been accused of laxity in driving citizen economic empowerment, with a number of Batswana still living in abject poverty in spite of the country being rich.
“It is unfortunate that government is talking of citizen empowerment whilst in reality there is half hearted commitment on its part,” said Daniel Neo Moroka, the Chief Executive Officer at DeBeers.
Moroka said Botswana is a rich country with a lot of diamonds but very few citizens are rich. He said the government cannot take it when one is rich; its either he has stolen or bribed someone.
“When we talk of citizen empowerment, we can never be apologetic on that,” said Moroka. “The current policies and laws are a clear sign that Botswana does not support its own people.”
He commended the stance adopted by Zimbabwe of having 51 percent stake owned by Zimbabwean, saying this way, the company will not be in the hands of foreigners. “This is clear sign that Zimbabwean government has a desire to empower its own citizens,” he added.
Moroka bemoaned the absence of citizen economic empowerment law to date, saying that “this conflicts the whole objective of empowering citizens”.
Currently, government is set to come up with a citizen economic empowerment law following the approval of the Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) policy by Cabinet in February.
Moroka referred the government of Botswana to look into the SACU SDA500 form that requires traders to pay money when entering into South Africa.
“This frustrates traders coming from Botswana and to date nothing has been done by government to protect its citizens,” said Moroka.
He called on government to re-examine some of its policies as there is no policy coherence supporting the development of local business.
“The leather industry failed to be sustainable due to policy incoherence,” he said, citing the example of Tarnaries, which failed to make it because BMC denied selling hides to them, opting to sell to an international company at 20 percent profit.
There are a number of conflicting policies that need to be interacted on at a political level. Moroka said as the Diamond Trading Centre will be relocating into Botswana, he has requested the company to forge linkages with Batswana.