Friday, September 25, 2020

Our obsession with foreign investments hindering progress

This week, the Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha, made a very important announcement that, in many respects, is very relevant to the lives of Batswana.

To many people, Minister Nasha’s announcement by far outweighed what was supposed to be the catch of the week ÔÇô the budget speech by Minister of Finance, Baledzi Gaolathe.

While at a BULGSA event in Mogoditshane, Minister Nasha announced that her ministry will henceforth stop requiring experience in its vacancy adverts.
She rightly observed that such a practice disadvantaged Batswana.

Dr. Nasha could not have been more correct.
Her announcement could not have come at a right time.

The technical departments of Dr. Nasha’s ministry are terribly dominated by expatriates, especially from East Africa, who have effectively transformed themselves into a cartel, giving tenders to their kindred in the private sector at the exclusion of citizens.

In fact, this cartel has become so powerful so much so that they own construction companies to which they pass the ministry’s contracts.

We need foreign skills, but we should be awake to the fact that it is paramount that we give our people a chance so that they acquire exactly the same kind of experience for which we keep foreigners in the civil service.

Just under two years ago, in his State of the Nation Address, President Festus Mogae also touched on this very important issue that Nasha says she is now implementing.

He said at the time that he would instruct the civil service to bring to an end their requirements for experience as a way of co-opting university graduates into the civil service.

Many of us had started to lose heart that such an undertaking was ever going to see the light of day.
Dr. Nasha’s announcement has, however, rekindled our hopes.

We thank her for that.

Her announcement is important in that it provides a kind of reassurance that, at the top most layers of our government, there still remain some remnants of people who have faith in the ability and potential of Batswana.

We have watched with dismay how, over the years, our government policy was deliberately skewed in favour of foreign investors.

Our obsession with foreign investors who never come has blinded us to the fact that such people will only come to Botswana if there is a continuing guarantee that they will make profits.

We all remember so well how removals companies raked in a lot of money as the people we call investors immediately deserted this country just after government devalued the Pula and headed to South Africa where they believed they could make more money than in Botswana.

By their very nature, investors do not invest out of patriotism, but rather the lure of making more out of their investment. By their nature, investors are a disloyal lot.

It is sad that as a nation we are still to grasp the simple reality that investors are not developers.
The country is developed by its own citizens who stay in it even when the chips are down.

So, it is naïve for government to fail to invest in the skills of Batswana who will always be with this country even during the hardest of the times.
We all know how Batswana remained behind to bear the brunt not just of the devaluation but the resultant inflation as well.

Where were the government’s beloved investors then? The answer is they had fled. They will do it again when hardships set in.

We should use our vast financial resources to invest in and grow our own human capital.

At the moment, Botswana’s biggest handicap is implementation of its projects.

We can overcome such a handicap if we utilise the many engineering graduates roaming the streets.
We urge the rest of the government to take the cue from Margaret Nasha and start investing in the citizens of this country by giving them employment over foreigners.

It’s time we disabused ourselves the misguided notion that foreign investors will leave their countries, come here and develop our Botswana.
They will only come here temporarily, if during that time they make money.

They will go back home immediately they stop making such profits.

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