Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Once we are done ushering Khama with goodies, let’s rebuild our country

There is so much to learn from the presidency of the outgoing President, Ian Khama.

In actual fact, if there is anything that we can thank President Khama for with certainty, is the fact that even on the eleventh hour, he continues to reveal some potential that Batswana has. The latest revelation or reminder is that of “collective effort”.

The last few months as Khama visits different villages and towns during his fare well tours have reminded us of the ability that we have as Batswana – The ability to organise ourselves and collectively contribute towards a good course.

From day one in Moshupa to Tlokweng village where he was this past Thursday, Batswana were able to organise themselves with an ultimate goal of collecting special gifts in the form of live stock, cash and other sorts of goodies. This means local organising committees were set up and leaders appointed to ensure that everyone live up to their promises or pledges.

To cut the story short, and from where we stand, if summed up some of the gifts that were ushered to Khama, could easily be turned into investment vehicles for such communities. In fact, if I was the outgoing President, I would get these poor communities to each register a trust that would in turn take care of these accumulated assets and turn them into developmental vehicles.

There is no doubt that the collected assets, if properly converted into investment vehicles would immediately benefit some of these poor communities. Take for instance the people of Kgatleng – being Mochudi, Bokaa, Pilane, Rasesa, Morwa and the village rivers. They have a beautiful monumental place called Phuthadikobo located in Mochudi. Why can’t these communities collectively put together some sort of investment in the form of a coffee shop or conference centre in that hill and make money out of it for both the current and future generations? In short, if Kgatleng or any other region was able to collectively raise as much as P1 million (for argument sake) for Khama farewell, why can’t they do the same for their own children? If any village within Kgatleng has a clinic that needs a maternity ward, shouldn’t such community give priority to developing their clinic and in a way safe guard the life of pregnant women and unborn children in such a village? The same question could be asked about any other community which has developmental needs that does not require huge budget.

These examples might sounds extreme or even bitter to some people but the fact of the matter is that over the years, even during the tenure of the outgoing president we have, as nation, been unable to uplift most of our communities. A lot of communities’ still needs infrastructure like halls, clinic with maternity ward, additional classrooms in schools, streets lights etc. All these projects can be built by communities without little help from the government. The same resources that we pulled together to organise goodies for the outgoing President can be used to develop our own communities and even invest for the future generations.

The truth of the matter is that during the “diamonds are forever” days we failed to save for hard times. Those who were given the powers to divide the national cake every year did not ensure that money from the diamonds ends in the pockets of Batswana. We now find ourselves in a situation where the state is rich and 95 percent of people are poor. The situation becomes even more worrisome when some within the 5 percent now turns towards the state coffers to clean it up. This is why we call for Batswana to consider going back to the days of self development. The days they were able to contribute a cow each to build our all time pride ÔÇô The University of Botswana.

As it stands it is quite evident that most of our local communities still struggle to improve their development options but the practice of community savings in the past early years has demonstrated staying power and relevance even in other several nations.

Many people of this country remain jobless, moneyless and landless. It is only through collective efforts that we can start accumulating wealth first for ourselves and most importantly for the next generation.

As we all know, and without repeating the obvious, the essence of collective efforts remains to mobilise like-minded individuals towards achieving financial and social goals.

Our thinking is that the end product of self reliance (The real Ipelegeng) is not just financial benefits since locals will be getting jobs through reservations but also the local communities will get their desired developments such as internal roads, resource centres, community halls, etc through a well ran community trust.

Another end product of collective effort and self reliance is that it could result in an element of trust and a sense of belonging amongst dwellers and this needs to be harnessed going forward.

The #Bottomline is that in the absence of appropriate and people friendly financial mechanisms or people friendly budget, a community collective savings and fund system is extremely vital. In the long, the ultimate goal is to have it as financial mechanism or “bank” of the poor communities which they can use to finance their developmental needs. With so many allegations of looting and corruption, the only way out for Batswana is to collectively work together to accumulate wealth as they rebuild this nation.


Read this week's paper