Opposition parties say they expect very little from President Ian Khama’s address to the nation on Monday.
While three opposition political parties expect that Khama’s address will touch on the education crisis, they say that he will, as usual, exaggerate his successes and downplay his failures.
“We expect the same old tired rhetoric about 5Ds, poverty eradication, economic diversification drive, hubs and stuff about alcohol, constituency league and Ipelegeng. We have been hearing these for sometime but the quality of life of many Batswana remains very poor in a country that has had the diamond fortune for decades,” says Taolo Lucas, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) spokesman.
The BCP denounces the policies used by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to diversify the economy and fight poverty as “weak and ill conceived”.
“The BCP, unlike the BDP, believes that there should be a robust economic regeneration programme and job creation agenda that emphasizes huge investment by government in manufacturing, beneficiation of natural resources, massive skills development and huge investment in technological development and innovation. It is only through this strategy that decent, long term and quality jobs can be created. We want the president to talk about this but we are not likely to get it,” says Lucas.
The BCP faults Khama’s administration for “narrow interpretation of the problems of poverty and unemployment which leads them to suggest petty welfarist programmes such as Ipelegeng.”
“We expect the President to state clear what he intends to do with the education system that is going through a crisis that is unprecedented in recent years. The president must pronounce on the future of BIUST. He should come clean on the proposed scaling down on the institution. The president should also come clear on tertiary education financing that has been very confused of late. From the record of the president we believe that he is likely to give issues of education only a cursory treatment. If he does that, as he has always done, there lies the collapse of the future for our country and children. The BCP calls for Khama to pronounce on fundamental democratic reforms such as constitutional review, state funding of political parties, strengthening of parliament and the location of Ntlo ya Dikgosi (House of Chiefs) in the country’s democratic system,” says Lucas
For the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Khama must tell the nation how the government fared in its attempt to attain Millennium Development Goals giving measurements.
“The President must tell the nation what programmes his government has, since he became president, designed and implemented to reduce poverty. He must give figures concerning levels of poverty when he took over, and what successes his programs have had, giving accurate measurements. He must admit to the nation that his pet programs have failed, and what he proposes to do about them,” says the BMD spokesman, advocate Sidney Pilane.
The BMD expects Khama to talk about the education crisis.
“The crisis in Education involves an unnecessary and escalating stand-off over the invigilation of examinations and the marking of examination papers by competent teachers. The government will live to regret preferring the use of scab labour over engaging teachers in sensible and productive negotiations. We express our unreserved support for teachers in the positions they have taken. We don’t think that their positions are unreasonable,” says the BMD spokesman.
The Botswana National Front (BNF) expects the President to give the nation a report card on Vision 2016 – the country’s road map to a better Botswana after five decades of independence from Britain.
“The President ought to tell Batswana whether we are making progress or not in achieving all the goals of the Vision. If we are not making any progress he will have to spell out what measures are in place that will propel the nation towards realization of the goals,” says Moeti Mohwasa the BNF spokesman.
The BNF, like other parties, expects Khama to say how he hopes to tackle the education and labour crisis.
“Who is going to mark the school examinations now that teachers are planning to boycott marking? It will be foolhardy for the Ministry of Education to leave marking of examinations to individuals who are not current teachers,” says Mohwasa.