The Botswana Congress Party and the Botswana Movement for Democracy Members of Parliament have dismissed the draft mid-term review of the National Development Plan 10, saying the document lacked the interest of the ordinary person on the street.
Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, last week presented the paper to the legislators, citing key areas to be addressed and strategies to be implemented for the country’s economic boost and growth moving forward towards the next Plan period.
This amid dwindling natural mining resources and, in particular, the diamond industry – the main contributor to the country’s coffers since the advent of the gem post early years of independence.
“There is nothing different on offer in the review. It is the same NDP 10…the same national plans Honourables Kedikilwe and Mmusi talked about during their years,” noted opposition BCP president, Dumelang Saleshando.
He added that the same diversification drive and creation of employment were littered in the document but were doomed to collapse as has always been the case with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party lip service policies.
“No country with a record high unemployment, social economic inequalities and poverty rates could expect the private sector to solve the country’s economic problems,” Saleshando further noted, saying serious and active economies are government led.
“It is not surprising that your president does not read local papers. Brazil, China and India, considered developing countries, are expected to surpass USA, Canada and other 6 developed countries economic out-put in the not distant years,” Saleshando said, adding that the rapid industrialization of China was because the country adopted a development model led by the government.
“So to think the private sector could drive this economy is a fallacy…Go itlhoboga,” Saleshando declared.
He indicated that, to adopt a private sector driven economy, was like the leadership essentially handing over the country’s economy to China, which currently dominates private sector business.
“Who runs the private sector…It is a foreign dominated sector. It is dominated by the Chinese government-owned companies. China would soon take over the country and we just move on,” Saleshando argued.
Besides the foreigners, those to enjoy the BDP-envisaged private sector economy would be a very small collective elite of BDP functionaries who are currently enjoying tenders with the military.
Worse still, he said, “these tenders are not through merit” and Saleshando called for the government to “revisit this”.
Rarely making mention of citizen empowerment, Saleshando is convinced the review does not adequately address the plight of the nation.
“Do you think Batswana can not make it in business without the face of a white person. Are you only impressed by the colour? Do you think they are better persons placed to bring about ideas to the development of this country? The answer is No,” Saleshando observed.
He called on the ruling BDP to also include the middle class and working people in the fold of the country’s economy.
“To cater for poor, unemployed and elderly by donating blankets for the sake of votes without the inclusion of this group will render this country stagnant,” he further observed, citing developing Mauritius that has made it on the economic level because of convenient provisions for the working class.
Unlike Botswana government, Saleshando is also impressed by the caring and nurturing Ecuador leadership, which puts its people products first before any other, including products from leather of indigenous cattle.
“E seng matlalo a honourable Matlhabaphiri a phutlhang. Here we mean real business for the government in power, caring for its citizens, unlike your current establishment,” said Saleshando, dramatically brandishing his new wallet that he acquired during his recent visit to Ecuador.
He scoffed at Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetsi Matlhabaphiri, MP for Molepolole North who is leading a circumcision campaign and gave the analogy of the foreskin and leather from castle, saying ‘matlalo’ natively could refer to leather from cattle and the foreskin cuts which are encouraged by the health authorities.
The statement stirred laughter from all MPs.
For his part, BMD MP Nehemiah Modubule echoed the same sentiments expressed by Saleshando, saying the BDP government was in the dark over the path to drive the country’s economy.
He cited the current Ipelegeng project, which he said would not remove poor Batswana out of poverty.
“We are calling for sustainable good paying employment. Ga gona boswa jwa Ipelegeng,” Modubule said, arguing that the BDP government was breeding a nation of destitute with “these temporary schemes just to acquire electoral votes”.