Saturday, January 16, 2021

MPs say govt doing little on citizen empowerment

Members of parliament this week poured water on government’s efforts towards citizenship empowerment, saying little has been done to uplift the lives of Batswana.

Responding to the President’s State of Nation address, MPs from across the political divide expressed disappointment with current government initiatives designed to empower Batswana, insisting they benefit the foreigners.

“When a few years ago government passed the citizen empowerment policy, Batswana pinned all their hope in the law, thinking it would protect them from unscrupulous foreign investors and thus up-lift them from abject poverty,” said newly elected Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi.

“However that seems not to be the case as the situation on the ground points to the opposite.”

“Foreign companies come in the country with everything, including labour, only for the local contractors to lie idle doing nothing. They could not sub-contract neither could they hire their implements, such as tractors and tippers, leaving them in abject poverty and eventually repossession of their goods,” Mmolotsi added.

He insisted that “these are the people who have benefited from the citizen empowerment initiatives such as CEDA loans and, as such, government should take appropriate actions to cushion them from poverty and repossession of the goods.”

Mmolotsi cited the Chinese constructions which come with all the compliments, including labour to exclude Batswana from taking part in the refurbishment of the country.

Molepolole South MP, Daniel Kwelagobe, argued that initially government promised to empower Batswana by engaging them with all major governments’ projects but that seems to be water under the bridge. He said major projects like Maun, Sir Seretse Khama airports expansion projects, Kasane road and Dikgatlhong run without local contractors’ involvement.

“When we talk about citizen empowerment we should mean real citizen empowerment,” he said.

MP Odirile Motlhala lamented the number of locals engaged in the tourism sector, adding for the companies to be Botswana registered was not enough to justify they belong to Batswana.

“To avoid issues of disgruntlement government should come up with a stipulated threshold amongst the two parties to be communicated to the parties,” he advised.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper